Many public health organizations—including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society—recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 3 cups of legumes per week (based on a daily intake of approximately 2,000 calories). Because 1 serving of legumes was defined as 1/2 cup (cooked), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans come very close to this as they recommend of 1/2 cup of cooked legumes on a daily basis. Based on our own research review, we believe that 3 cups of legumes per week is a very reasonable goal for support of good health. However, we also believe that optimal health benefits from legumes may require consumption of legumes in greater amounts. This recommendation for greater amounts is based upon studies in which legumes have been consumed at least 4 days per week and in amounts falling into a 1-2 cup range per day. These studies suggest a higher optimal health benefit level than the 2005 Dietary Guidelines: instead of 3 cups of weekly legumes, 4-8 cups would become the goal range. Remember that any amount of legumes is going to make a helpful addition to your diet. And whatever weekly level of legumes you decide to target, we definitely recommend inclusion of garbanzo beans among your legume choices.
You will find that many of our recipes containing beans gives you the choice between using home cooked beans and canned beans. If you are in a hurry canned beans can be a healthy option. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value between canned garbanzo beans and those you cook yourself. However there may be some concern over the BPA content of canned products. To find out if the cans of your favorite canned beans are lined with BPA, you will need to contact the manufacturer. Your best bet to avoid BPA is to factor in a little more time to your meal preparation process and prepare beans yourself. See Healthiest Way of Cooking Garbanzo Beans below.
Even though legumes are known for their fiber, most people do not know how helpful the fiber in garbanzo beans can actually be for supporting digestive tract function. First is the issue of amount. Garbanzos contain about 12.5 grams of fiber per cup. That's 50% of the Daily Value (DV)! In addition to this plentiful amount, at least two-thirds of the fiber in garbanzos is insoluble. This insoluble fiber typically passes all the way through our digestive tract unchanged, until it reaches the last part of our large intestine (the colon). Bacteria in our colon can break down the garbanzos' insoluble fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) including acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. These SCFAs can be absorbed by the cells that line our colon wall and can be used by these cells for energy. In fact, butyric acid is the preferred source of energy for the cells lining our colon. With the extra amounts of energy provided by SCFAs from the insoluble fiber in garbanzos, our colon cells can stay optimally active and healthy. Healthier colon cell function means lower risk for us of colon problems, including lower risk of colon cancer.
Many of our body systems are susceptible to oxidative stress and damage from reactive oxygen molecules. These systems include our cardiovascular system, our lungs, and our nervous system. Plentiful amounts of antioxidant nutrients are critical for the support of these body systems, and garbanzo beans are a remarkable food in terms of their antioxidant composition. While containing small but valuable amounts of conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, garbanzo beans also contain more concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients. These phytonutrients include the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin (usually found in the outer layer of the beans), and the phenolic acids ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid (usually found in the interior portion of the beans). Depending on the type of bean and color/thickness of the outer layer, garbanzo beans can also contain significant amounts of the anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin, and petunidin. The mineral manganese—a key antioxidant in the energy-producing mitochondria found inside most cells—is also provided in excellent amounts by garbanzo beans. In fact, just one cup of garbanzos can provide you with nearly 85% of the Daily Value (DV) for this key antioxidant. An increasing number of animal and human studies clearly show the ability of garbanzo beans to reduce our risk of heart disease, and we believe that an important part of this risk reduction is due to the fantastic antioxidant make-up of these legumes.
While epidemiologic studies don't always single out garbanzo beans from other beans when determining their relationship to cardiovascular disease, garbanzo beans are almost always included in the list of legumes studied when heart disease is the focus of diet research. Large-scale epidemiologic studies give us a great look at potential heart benefits from garbanzo beans, and the evidence shows garbanzo beans to be outstanding in this area. As little as 3/4 cup of garbanzos per day can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in a one-month period of time. This cardiovascular support is likely to come from multiple aspects of garbanzo beans and their nutrient composition. About one-third of the fiber in garbanzo beans is soluble fiber, and this type of fiber is the type most closely associated with support of heart health. As mentioned earlier in this Health Benefits section, garbanzo beans also have a unique combination of antioxidants, and these antioxidants clearly provide support for our blood vessels walls and blood itself. And while garbanzo beans are not a fatty food, they do contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the body's omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made. There are about 70-80 milligrams of ALA in every cup of garbanzo beans, and there are about 2 grams of other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Risk of coronary heart disease is one of the specific types of cardiovascular risks that has been shown to be reduced by regular intake of garbanzo beans and other legumes.
No food macronutrients are more valuable for blood sugar regulation than fiber and protein. These two nutrients have an amazing ability to help stabilize the flow of food through our digestive tract and prevent the breakdown of food from taking place too quickly or too slowly. When food passes through us at a healthy rate of speed, release of sugar from the food is typically better regulated. Strong vitamin and mineral composition of a food - including strong antioxidant composition - can also help stabilize its digestive impact on our blood sugar. Given these basic relationships between nutrition and blood sugar control, it's not surprising to see garbanzo beans improving blood sugar regulation in research studies. We've seen studies in which participants consumed as little as 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans per day and still witnessed better blood sugar control in as little as one week. In animal studies, garbanzo-based improvements in blood sugar regulation have partly been linked to better control of insulin output and overall insulin function. We suspect that some of these blood sugar benefits are directly related to improved digestive function. Garbanzo beans are a fantastic food for providing our digestive system with nutrient support. Even though research studies have shown blood sugar benefits with as little as 1/2 cup servings of garbanzo beans, we recommend that you consider more generous single servings of this delicious legume, in the range of up to 1 cup.
We have been excited to see recent studies showing a positive relationship between garbanzo beans and weight management. The best single study we've seen in this regard has been a study that measured food satiety. "Food satiety" is the scientific term used to describe our satisfaction with food—how full it leaves us feeling, and how effective it is in eliminating our sense of hunger and appetite. Participants in a recent study were found to consume fewer snacks and fewer overall calories when supplementing their regular diet with garbanzo beans. They were also found to report greater food satiety, with experiences of reduced appetite and greater food satisfaction. We look forward to some large-scale studies in this area, and we expect to see a clear role being carved out for garbanzo beans in terms of weight loss and weight management. Along with their unusual combination of protein and fiber and their great ability to stabilize digestion, garbanzo beans also stand out as a food that is moderate in terms of calories. At approximately 270 calories per cup, we're talking about 10-15% of daily calories. In return for this moderate calorie cost, we get 50% of the DV for fiber and 29% of the DV for protein. Those nutrient amounts are great trade-offs for anyone struggling with weight loss or weight management.
Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, Bengal grams, and Egyptian peas) have a delicious nutlike taste and buttery texture. They provide a concentrated source of protein that can be enjoyed year-round and are available either dried or canned. The Latin name for garbanzo beans, Cicer arietinum, means "small ram," reflecting the unique shape of this legume that somewhat resembles a ram's head.
Garbanzos have a delicious nutlike taste and a texture that is buttery, yet somewhat starchy and pasty. A very versatile legume, they are a noted ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, falafels and curries.
There are two basic types of garbanzo beans. Most commonly seen at salad bars and in canned products are the "kabuli-type." These beans are cream-colored or sometimes whitish in color, fairly uniform and rounded in shape, and about twice as large as the second "desi-type." In addition to being much smaller, desi-type beans are darker (light tan to black in color) and more irregular in shape. From a botanical standpoint, the desi-type beans also have a thicker seed coat (the seed coat is the protective outermost layer of the bean). While kabuli-type beans are the ones we are accustomed to finding in U.S. salad bars and grocery stores, they actually represent only 10-20% of the garbanzo beans consumed worldwide, where the vast majority of garbanzos are desi-type beans. There are great health benefits from both types of garbanzos. However, in the case of some nutrients—including some antioxidant nutrients like quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin—desi-type beans provide more concentrated nutrient amounts since these nutrients are found in the seed coat and this seed coat is thicker in desi-type beans.
Garbanzo beans originated in the Middle East, the region of the world whose varied food cultures still heavily rely upon this high protein legume. The first record of garbanzo beans being consumed dates back about seven thousand years. They were first cultivated around approximately 3000 BC. Their cultivation began in the Mediterranean basin and subsequently spread to India and Ethiopia.
Garbanzo beans were grown by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and were very popular among these cultures. During the 16th century, garbanzo beans were brought to other subtropical regions of the world by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers as well as Indians who emigrated to other countries. Today, the main commercial producers of garbanzos are India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.
Dried garbanzos are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the garbanzo beans are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure maximum freshness. Whether purchasing garbanzo beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.
Canned garbanzo beans can be found in most supermarkets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, canning does less damage to many of the key nutrients found in garbanzo beans. For example, many people rely on garbanzo beans (and other legumes) for protein and fiber in their daily diet, and canning only lowers the amount of these nutrients by about 15%. Many of the B vitamins hold up well in canned garbanzo beans, and some actually show up in higher concentrations in canned versus non-canned versions. An important exception here is folate, which is decreased by about 40-45% during canning. (If you are depending on your garbanzo beans for this important B vitamin, you will want to consider purchasing dry garbanzo beans and cooking them yourself.) Canning will generally lower the nutrient content of food since long cooking time and/or high heats are often involved. The nutritional impact of canning on vegetables can be extremely high since vegetables are best cooked very lightly for a very short period of time. Legumes like garbanzo beans are different than vegetables, however, since they require a long time to cook whether they are canned or cooked by you at home from the dry version. While canned garbanzo beans may be more convenient, there is a concern about the BPA that is used in the lining of many canned foods. Some manufacturers do not use BPA-lined cans and it is worth seeking these out. To find out if the cans of your favorite canned beans are lined with BPA, you will need to contact the manufacturer. (For more on BPA, see this article.) Also when it comes to canned garbanzo beans, we would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. Once you remove the beans from the can, place them in a strainer and rinse them thoroughly for one minute.
If purchasing chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, more generally available in ethnic food stores, make sure that it is made from beans that have been cooked since in their raw form, they contain a substance that is hard to digest and can produce flatulence.
Store dried garbanzo beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase garbanzo beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked garbanzo beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
Garbanzo Beans, cooked
|manganese||1.69 mg||73||4.9||very good|
|folate||282.08 mcg||71||4.7||very good|
|copper||0.58 mg||64||4.3||very good|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%