. Chickpeas for Diabetes: The Plant Based Protein Super Star

Chickpeas for Diabetes: The Plant Based Protein Super Star

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Have you been considering adding more plant-based meals to your life?  Eating a plant-based diet offers many health benefits including reducing your risk of heart disease, reducing your risk of cancer, improved gut health, and weight loss or maintenance to name a few.

Many of us want to start eating more plant-based meals but don’t have a clue where to start.  That’s where chickpeas come in!

Not only are chickpeas adorable, they are a type of legume that are packed with healthy nutrients. They are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  They are also low in calories and fat and incredibly versatile and easy to use!

Chickpeas vs garbanzo beans 

Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are actually the same thing. They are the same legume, just with different names. The word “chickpea” is more commonly used in English-speaking countries, while the word “garbanzo bean” is more commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a type of legume that are in the same family as kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts.

Are chickpeas good for diabetes? 

Studies have shown solid evidence of health benefits of chickpeas for people with diabetes.  Some of the health benefits include:

  • Help regulate blood sugar levels: Chickpeas are a good source of fiber, which helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This can help to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating.
  • Reduce cholesterol levels: Chickpeas contain soluble fiber, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels. This can help to protect against heart disease.
  • Promote weight loss: Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, which can help to promote feelings of fullness and help to reduce overall calorie intake. This can help people with diabetes to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Boost gut health: Chickpeas are a good source of prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome can help to improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.
  • Reduce the risk of chronic diseases: Chickpeas contain a variety of antioxidants and other compounds that have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chickpea glycemic index 

So what is it about chickpeas that makes them a good choice for people with diabetes and helps with blood sugar regulation?  

Ever heard of the glycemic index?  The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels after eating. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose having a GI of 100. Foods with a high GI cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly, while foods with a low GI cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly.

The GI of chickpeas is only 28. This means that chickpeas are a low-GI food. Low-GI foods are digested slowly and do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.  Chickpeas are also a great source of protein and fiber, which can also help to regulate blood sugar levels.

Are chickpeas keto or low carb?

You may be wondering if chickpeas fall into the “keto” diet or if they are low in carbs.  One serving of chickpeas (3/4 cup) contains about 22 grams of carbohydrates so while they are not necessarily a low carb or “keto friendly” food, their health benefits still make them a great option and due to the low GI, fiber, and protein content they should not cause a large spike in blood sugar.

In addition, chickpeas contain around 120 calories, 2 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup. 

Chickpea nutrition facts label

Substitute for chickpeas 

So, what if you don’t have any chickpeas on hand?  Here are a few plant-based protein substitutes you can use in place of chickpeas that have similar nutritional value:

  • Lentils: Lentils are another type of legume that are similar in nutritional value to chickpeas. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron. Lentils can be used in many of the same dishes as chickpeas, such as soups, stews, and salads.
  • Kidney beans: Kidney beans are another type of bean that can be used as a substitute for chickpeas. They have a slightly different flavor and texture than chickpeas, but they can be used in many of the same dishes. Kidney beans are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron.
  • Black beans: Black beans are another type of bean that can be used as a substitute for chickpeas. They have a slightly different flavor and texture than chickpeas, but they can be used in many of the same dishes. Black beans are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron.
  • Edamame: Edamame are immature soybeans that can be used as a substitute for chickpeas. They have a slightly different flavor and texture than chickpeas, but they can be used in many of the same dishes. Edamame are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron.

Ways to eat Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. They can be eaten on their own, added to salads, soups, and stews, or used to make hummus, falafel, and other plant-based dishes.

Can you eat chickpeas raw?

YES!  The great thing about chickpeas is how easy they are.  You can even eat raw chickpeas right out of the can as a snack or as part of a meal.

Chickpeas come both dried and canned.  Dried chickpeas are more affordable, but they need to be soaked and cooked overnight before eating. Canned chickpeas are more convenient, but they may be higher in sodium. If you choose canned chickpeas, be sure to rinse them thoroughly before eating or see if the store has the lower sodium version available.

Tips for including chickpeas in your diet

  • Add chickpeas to salads: Chickpeas are a great addition to salads. They add protein, fiber, and flavor. Try adding chickpeas to a Greek salad, Caesar salad, or Cobb salad.
  • Make hummus: Hummus is a delicious and healthy dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Hummus is a good source of protein and fiber, and it is also low in calories.
  • Make falafel: Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas, herbs, and spices. Falafel balls are fried or baked and can be eaten on their own or served in a pita bread with vegetables and tahini sauce.
  • Use as a filling for tacos: Replace the meat in your tacos with taco seasoned chickpeas!
  • Add chickpeas to soups and stews: Chickpeas can be added to a variety of soups and stews to add protein, fiber, and flavor. Try adding chickpeas to chili, lentil soup, vegetable soup, or chicken stew.
  • Roast or air fry chickpeas: For a tasty, crispy snack spray add some olive oil and your favorite seasonings and roast or air fry the chickpeas.
  • Chickpea flour – Chickpeas flour is a gluten free flour made from ground chickpeas.  It has a slightly nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of gluten free dishes.

Store Bought Chickpea Options

There are several brands offering store bought food items made from chickpeas such as salty snacks, pasta, sweet treats, and cereal. Some of our favorites include:

  • Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks
  • Lebby Chocolate Covered Chickpeas
  • Banza Chickpea Pasta
  • The Good Bean Crunchy Chickpeas
  • Kibo Chickpea Chips
  • Hippeas Chickpea Puffs
  • Off the Eaten Path Chickpea Veggie Crisps
  • Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas
  • Three Wishes Cereal

Many of these store bought options are available from Thrive Market, an online market that offers the best prices around for healthy foods that fit into a variety of different eating plans! For every membership purchased, Thrive Market donates a free membership to someone in need. Use this link to sign up for Thrive Market today and get 40% off your first order.

Conclusion

Chickpeas are a nutritious and delicious food that can be enjoyed by people with or without diabetes. Chickpeas can help to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol levels, promote gut health, aid in weight loss or weight maintenance, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

There are many ways to include chickpeas in your diet, so be sure to experiment and find recipes or store bought items that you enjoy.

To learn more about how chickpeas fit into your overall healthy eating plan, check out our post on Carb Counting!

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