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Are Garbanzo Beans Good for You?

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas or bengal gram, are legumes that have a soft, buttery texture and a slightly nutty taste. You find them often in dishes originating from India, as well as from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Garbanzo beans are the main ingredient in hummus, a creamy dip served with pita bread and fresh vegetables. They also are dried, ground and formed into balls called felafel, which are served with sesame paste in the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. These legumes offer several health benefits.

Garbanzo beans are rich sources of lean protein, which your body uses as fuel for energy and cellular repair. A cup of cooked garbanzos contains about 11.9 grams of protein. Choosing garbanzos instead of animal proteins, such as meats and dairy products, helps you fulfill your daily protein requirement without adding saturated fats to your diet.

Like most legumes, garbanzo beans are abundant sources of dietary fiber. Fiber is necessary for proper digestion, and expands in your digestive system to make you feel full and reduce the temptation to overeat. Fiber may help lower bad cholesterol levels in your bloodstream, which may prevent stroke and heart attack, according to Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." It may also lower blood glucose levels, which can help manage fatigue and dizziness associated with diabetes. A cup of cooked garbanzo beans contains about 10.6 grams of dietary fiber.

Although consumers in the United States commonly associate antioxidants with fruits and berries, antioxidants are also present in legumes, including garbanzo beans. Antioxidants may help prevent cancer by preventing unstable free radical molecules from damaging healthy muscle, bone and organ cells, according to author Balch. A cup of garbanzo beans contains about 9.1 milligrams of vitamin C and 50 international units of vitamin A, both of which are potent antioxidants.

When possible, choose dried garbanzo beans instead of canned varieties, which typically contain added salt. A cup of canned garbanzo beans may contain as much as 718 milligrams of sodium, or about 31 percent of your recommended daily intake. Sodium might lead to hypertension, or high blood pressure, and might contribute to heart disease. If you must use canned garbanzo beans, rinse them thoroughly to remove excess salt or look for reduced sodium versions.

References (2)

  • "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 2010
  • "Hummus and 65 Other Delicious and Healthy Chickpea Recipes"; Avner Laskin; 2006

Photo Credits:

  • Chickpeas And Hommus image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.