The Glucose, Waistline, and Heart Benefits of Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are a nutrient rich food with an unassuming taste that can complement many of our favorite salads, soups, casseroles, and stews.

That’s good news for people managing their blood sugar, trying to lose weight, and protecting their heart’s health since eating garbanzos can boost all these wellness goals.

Garbanzos and Glucose

Though garbanzo beans contain starch, they are a low-glycemic index food owed to their protein and fiber content. Just a half cup of the beans provides about 6 grams of fiber, and 7.5 grams of protein. This fiber-protein combo helps stabilize glucose levels by slowing digestion.

In one study, people consuming garbanzos had post-meal blood sugar responses 45% percent lower than after eating the same amount of carbs from grains, pastas, and cereals. Other research indicates eating these beans may contribute to reduced A1C levels.

Garbanzos and Heart Health

Besides benefitting glucose management, the nutrients, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and dietary fiber in garbanzo beans creates a three-pronged defense against heart disease:

  1. If we were to eat a half cup of garbanzo beans every day for two months, our LDL cholesterol levels could drop up to 17 percent, according to research.
  2. Garbanzo compounds such as quercetin guard against the oxidation of LDL molecules, a process that leads to arterial plaque build up.
  3. The store of magnesium and folate in garbanzo beans strengthens cardiovascular health. Folate prohibits the accumulation of homocysteine, a substance associated with the free radicals that our damage cells. Magnesium is essential for normal blood pressure, and the production of nitric oxide—a heart-protective chemical.

Getting plenty of dietary magnesium from foods such as garbanzo beans is important since healthy hearts require this mineral, and approximately 75 percent of Americans have a magnesium deficiency.

Garbanzos and Appetite

Something else many Americans have are extra pounds, and being overweight is correlated with greater insulin resistance. Garbanzo bean consumption can help with weight maintenance, or loss in two ways:

  1. The soluble fiber in garbanzo beans slows down the digestive process that not only helps regulate glucose, but causes us to feel full and maybe decide against those second helpings we don’t really need.
  2. Proteins digest more slowly than carbohydrates and cause us to feel satisfied longer, so the proteins in garbanzo beans can help curb our appetite.

Together, the protein and fiber content of garbanzos help ward off food cravings by promoting the release of satiety hormones, and inhibiting the secretion of hunger causing hormones.

Five Minute Hummus

A delicious way to enjoy the benefits of garbanzo beans is dipping raw veggies in hummus, which is very easy to make. Here is simple five-minute recipe:

    In a food processor blend a 15 ounce can of chickpeas (rinsed), a garlic clove, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons tahini (optional), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and kosher salt.

Put the hummus in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and serve.

Sources: Life Extension; Real Simple

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