Chickpeas: Properties and Benefits


Chickpeas are one of the most consumed legumes in the world that combine therapeutic properties with good nutritional properties. Their regular intake has beneficial effects on health, especially that of the heart. Let’s see the other properties

The chickpeas are the seeds of a plant belonging to the family Fabaceae whose scientific name is Cicer arientinum. This legume is one of the oldest in human history. Currently it is the third most consumed legume in the world after beans and soy.

Chickpeas: properties and benefits
Chickpeas: Properties and Benefits

The chickpeas are from the East, probably Egypt, where they are cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean area. ( 1 ) There are two main varieties. A western with a larger shape and a beige / yellowish color and an eastern one with a smaller diameter and a reddish color.


The chickpeas are grown mostly in India which is the world’s leading manufacturer of these legumes. In 2014, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, over 14,2 tons of chickpeas were produced worldwide. In Italy, on the other hand, production is more limited probably due to the low yield and the market demand that has never been high.

Because legumes have a nutritional profile similar to that of vegetables and protein foods, they can often be used to meet the needs of both food groups. Legumes are known as an excellent source of dietary protein.

While the proteins present in legumes are not considered “complete”, compared to most animal proteins, when combined with foods such as whole grains, it is possible to easily obtain a balanced intake of amino acids essential.

The heat treatment also significantly improves the protein quality of legumes, such as chickpeas, since it destroys and / or inactivates many anti-nutritional factors. ( 2 )

Legumes are unique compared to other plant foods as they contain percentages higher protein (17% -30% by dry weight). The main proteins present in chickpeas are albumins and globulins. Smaller quantities of glutelins and prolamines are also present. ( 3 )

Chemical Composition

Chemical composition for 100 g of boiled chickpeas
Water g 60,21
Protein g 8,86
Carbohydrates g 27,42
Fibers g 7,6
Sugars g 4,80
Ashes g 0,92
Omega 3 mg 43
Omega 6 mg 1113
Calcium mg 49
Iron mg 2,89
Magnesium mg 48
Phosphorus mg 168
Potassium mg 291
Sodium mg 7
Zinc mg 1,53
Copper mg 0,352
Manganese mg 1,030
Selenium mcg 3,7
Vitamin A IU 27
Vitamin A, RAE mcg 1
B1 mg 0,116
B2 mg 0,063
B3 mg 0,526
B5 mg 0,286
B6 mg 0,139
Vitamin C mg 1,3
Vitamin E mg 0,35
Vitamin J mg 42,8
Vitamin K mcg 4
Beta carotene mcg 16
Folate mcg 172

Source: Nutritionvalue

Amino acids: glutamic acid, aspartic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.


100 grams of boiled chickpeas  have a calorie intake of 164 kcal.

The Hummus

Hummus is a sauce made from chickpeas paste that originated in Lebanon. Today it is also a classic dish of Israeli and Palestinian cuisine.

The traditional hummus contains a unique combination of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices that can provide additional benefits to health in addition to meeting the nutritional needs. ( 4 )

Chickpeas: Properties and Benefits

Lower Cholesterol

Research published in the journal Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism describes the properties that chickpeas have to lower levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood and consequently the protective role that chickpeas play towards the heart.

The reasons for these beneficial effects of chickpeas are due to the good presence of magnesium and folate. The latter in fact seems to have the property of lowering the levels of an amino acid which, when present in excessive amounts in the blood, increases the possibility of heart attack and stroke.

The name of this amino acid is homocysteine. Another substance present in chickpeas that helps to reduce LDL cholesterol is lecithin which, together with polyunsaturated fatty acids, is the main antagonist of bad cholesterol.

An Australian study reports that the inclusion of chickpeas in the diet causes lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol compared to a wheat-based diet. ( 5 )

An Australian study suggested that chickpea supplementation in the wheat-based diet resulted in significant reductions in total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. ( 6 )

recent meta-analysis of studies has indicated that a diet rich in chickpeas reduces LDL cholesterol. ( 7 )

Even soluble fibers contribute to the elimination of cholesterol from the blood. These fibers in fact improve blood circulation by absorbing cholesterol before it is absorbed from the gut.

In this way the soluble fiber forms a mass of gel that is expelled from the body through the faeces and with it also cholesterol. Also pectin, guar gum and gum arabic, show a hypolipidic effect in humans, reducing both serum cholesterol and triglycerides. ( 89 )

Heart Health

Containing potassium, fiber, vitamin C and B6, these nutrients are all useful for heart health. Several studies have shown that soluble fiber present in chickpeas can prevent various heart-related diseases. According to another study, potassium also plays an important role as it can prevent heart attacks. ( 10 , 11 )

The soluble fiber is well known for its beneficial effects on cholesterol, which are recognized validated biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Some studies have even shown greater benefit of an increase in the intake of vegetable proteins in relation to cardiovascular diseases. ( 12 )

Even folate plays an active role in maintaining the health of the heart. In fact, its activity counteracts that of homocysteine, an amino acid involved in blood coagulation.

Rich in Fiber

The chickpeas contain a good amount of fibers  soluble. These have the property of regulating the functions of our intestines. Dietary fiber has confirmed effects on faeces and their consistency. The available information also indicates that the incidence of diverticular disease is low in populations that ingest good amounts of dietary fiber. ( 13 )

The dietary fiber is the part indigestible of plant foods containing oligosaccharides, lignin and other vegetable matter. Dietary fiber is classified as soluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fibers are slowly digested in the colon, while insoluble fibers are indigestible and promote bowel movements.

Studies report an increase in fiber intake when chickpeas are added to the diet. Human studies report general improvements in bowel health when chickpeas are consumed. The improvements are characterized by a greater frequency of defecation, ease of defecation and softer stool consistency  during a chickpea-based diet compared to a usual diet. ( 1415 )

White chickpeas - 400 gr

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Protect the Liver

The liver is one of the vital organs in the human body that is involved in the regulation of various biochemical functions. Numerous studies suggest that consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in natural antioxidants reduces the risk of chronic liver disease. ( 16 )

An Egyptian study suggests that chickpea extract has marked in vivo hepatoprotective properties based on the measurement of albumen, globulin, protein profile and oxidative state. ( 17 )


Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced from the consumption of a chickpea diet (200 g / day) in healthy adults. ( 18 )

It has been widely reported that butyrate suppresses cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in cancer cells, which can reduce the risk of colorectal cancers. ( 19 )

Numerous other dietary bioactive compounds, such as lycopene, biocanin A and saponins, which in the Studies have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of tumors, they are also present in chickpeas and hummus. ( 20 )

A study conducted at Howard University in Washington showed that chickpea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers. ( 21 )

Satisfying Properties

The presence of fiber and complex carbohydrates maintain sugars at an adequate level. The fiber in particular increases the sense of satiety and avoids taking more calories during the day. Studies suggest that these legumes can help lose body fat resulting in weight loss. ( 22 )


Another property of chickpeas , and legumes in general, is to keep the percentage of sugar in the blood stable. Their glycemic index is 28 and this is one reason why their intake does not increase the percentage of blood sugar.

According to some research, eating chickpeas regularly helps to prevent type 2 diabetes. As we have seen they are also rich in fiber, substances that are able to slow the absorption of sugar in the blood. This property helps reduce the risk of diabetes 2. ( 23 )

Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease and hypertension, etc. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. ( 24 )

The prevalence of diabetes has increased by 120% over the past 25 years and is expected to increase from the incidence of 382 million adults in 2013 to 592 million by 2035 worldwide. ( 25 )

Many observational studies have associated legume consumption with weight loss and the reduction of chronic diseases such as diabetes in populations. ( 26 )

Good Digestibility

Compared to all the other legumes they are those characterized by a better digestibility. This property  is due to the fact that the chickpeas contain less oligosaccharides and therefore require less saliva to be digested. For this reason they cause less flatulence than beans.

Bone Health

Iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin K present in chickpeas, contribute to bone formation and health. A low intake of vitamin K has been associated with a higher risk of bone fractures.

The magnesium is used instead of the body along with calcium to build bones. ( 27 )


They contain fiber, protein, iron and calcium, a set of nutrients that is essential during pregnancy.  But folates are the most important nutrients during pregnancy, both for the mother and the fetus. Their right intake reduces the risk of insufficient weight and defects in the neural tube in the unborn child.

According to a recent study insufficient folates during pregnancy expose the child to the risk of infections and other diseases in the first months of life. ( 28 )


According to scientific research eating chickpeas at least 4 times a week can prevent inflammation. Their regular intake can also improve metabolism. But there are other nutrients present in these legumes that can prevent inflammation. Examples are vitamins A, C and B6, fibers, proteins, selenium, iron and magnesium. ( 29 )

Chickpeas in the pod

Chickpea Preparation

The dried chickpeas require a fairly long preparation time ranging from 12 to 18 hours with regard to the period of soaking precooking. For the latter, instead, a terracotta pot is preferable in which the chickpeas should cook for three hours over low heat.

The cooking must start in cold water brought to a boil over low heat and with a lid.

It is important that they are well cooked so as not to have problems on the digestive level, we also remember that chickpeas after soaking and cooking practically double in volume.


The chick does not have specific contraindications, the only thing to be careful about is their cooking. In fact, if they are not cooked properly, due to the cellulose they contain, they are a bit difficult to digest. 

We remind you that once purchased, first cook them they should be soaked for at least 12 hours in warm water, after which they should be cooked in a saucepan over low heat and with the lid.


These legumes contain more lecithin than soy and peanuts.

The name derives from the Latin cicer arietinum and the second word indicates the similarity that these legumes have with the ram’s head.

It seems that the surname Cicero descended from an ancestor of the same who had a wart on his nose that recalled the shape of the chickpea.

It is always better to check the drying date before buying them. In addition to a longer soaking period, old chickpeas also lose some of their properties, and it is always better to consume chickpeas that are not older than one year.

The sowing of chickpeas normally takes place in spring while harvesting takes place during the summer, between June and September.

The varieties are very numerous but the two most known and widespread are the chickpea Kabull and the Desi.

popular rumor uses these legumes as an example of something inconvenient, penitence. Many of you will have heard the phrase “kneeling on chickpeas” sometimes. Many decades ago, in fact, the elementary school teachers used to punish the most restless pupils by putting them on their knees on the chickpeas.

Once cooked they can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days in an airtight container.

India is the main producing country there these pulses with as much as 8.800.000 tons per year!

With the discarded stems of the plant farmed animals are foraged. With the leaves instead a blue dye is prepared.


The chickpeas do not contain gluten and therefore reveal a particularly suitable food for all those people who are affected by celiac disease.

Chickpeas: Properties and Benefits

Italian language version


This is not a medical newspaper, the information provided by this site is for informational purposes only and is of a general nature, it cannot in any way replace the prescriptions of a doctor or other health professionals authorized by law. The notions of dosage, medical procedures and product descriptions on this site have an illustrative purpose and do not allow to acquire the necessary experience and manual skills for their practice or their use. If you have been prescribed medical care I urge you not to interrupt or modify them, because all the suggestions you find on  must always and in any case be compared with the opinion of your doctor.

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