Chickpeas: Benefiting Weight, Mood and Heart

Chickpeas. Garbanzo Beans. Egyptian Beans. Bengal gram. Cicer arietinum.


It doesn't matter what you choose to call this legume, as each name refers to the same, aside from differentiating between the kabuli-type (the well known white/cream-colored variety) or the desi-type (the darker colored variety). What matters is how supportive they are of fabulous health and how you can do your heart, weight, appetite, and mood a great service by including these in your diet!


Healthy Weight

Chickpeas are packed with fiber and vegetarian protein. These two nutrients work individually, and as a team, to engage the feeling of fullness. Both fiber and protein slow down digestion, allowing a consistent rate of energy production. Consistent energy production, versus spikes and crashes of energy, is one way to regulate your body's metabolism and your physical sensations for hunger and appetite. These mechanisms, therefore put you in a position to attain a healthy weight.


Are there cases in which you choose to ignore the physical signs of fullness? Sure. So as you incorporate garbanzo beans into your diet, you may also consider incorporating the practice of slowing down while you eat.


Try this sequence: Sit back from your meal between bites. Notice what flavors you're tasting and the textures you're feeling. Acknowledge something you appreciate. Take time to engage in conversation if you're having a meal with others.


Why do this? Because no single food, not even awesome, good-for-you garbanzo beans are magical enough to solve the struggle of weight management.


Mood

The nutrients in chickpeas can legitimately impact your mood for the better, not in the unsustainable way you "feel good" when you eat comfort foods. (Unsustainable, because that good feeling doesn't last).


Consider that the brain and the gut (the intestines) are directly connected by a two-way-street called the vagus nerve. Your brain sends information about your psychological experiences to your gut, and information about what's happening in your gut is transmitted to your brain. Consuming nutrients that are supportive of both your intestines and your brain is a sound method for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, can be caused by inflammation in the brain and the gut. There are thousands of nutrients that work against inflammation, some of which include fiber, folate, flavonoids and phenolic acids - all found in the simple, yet versatile chickpea!


In addition to calming inflammation in the brain, garbanzo beans can initiate purely good feelings by feeding the trillions of bacteria living in the gut. When these bacteria receive the food they need - particularly soluble fibers - they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA's increase the production of serotonin - a chemical that signals feelings of fullness, and happiness!


Beans, Beans, They're Good for the Heart

Here's a fun word to add to the vocabulary:

hyperhomocysteinemia (hyper - homo - cis -teen - eem - ee - ah)

Who doesn't love to sound hyper-nerdy by tossing big words around?

All this word means is that there's too much (hyper-) homocysteine circulating in the bloodstream (-emia). Homocysteine may be a potential biomarker for cardiovascular disease. It can also indicate a folate and vitamin B12 deficiency!


Fortunately, garbanzo beans are an excellent source of folate. Pair these folate-rich pulses with an animal-sourced protein to get the vitamin B12 (or a B12 supplement if you're a vegetarian/vegan), and you can rest assured you're supporting your heart health.


Fiber is also helpful with supporting the cardiovascular system. As fiber works to manage cholesterol, blood sugars, and weight by appetite control, these benefits set the cardiovascular system up for optimal function. Read more about fiber in Factual Notes About Oats.


Let's talk about your favorite ways to eat chickpeas! Join Fabulous Nutrition and leave a comment, or fill in the Get in Touch form below.


References

Brönstrup, A., Hages, M., Prinz-Langenohl, R., & Pietrzik, K. (1998). Effects of folic acid and combinations of folic acid and vitamin B-12 on plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy, young women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68(5), 1104–1110. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/68.5.1104


Jukanti, A. K., Gaur, P. M., Gowda, C. L., & Chibbar, R. N. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. The British journal of nutrition, 108 Suppl 1, S11–S26. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512000797


Mayer, Emeran. (2016). The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health. New York, NY. HarperCollins Publishers.


Miller, A. A., & Spencer, S. J. (2014). Obesity and neuroinflammation: a pathway to cognitive impairment. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 42, 10–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2014.04.001


Moake, Joel. (2021). Merck Manual Professional Version. Hyperhomocysteinemia. Retrieved March 2021 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/thrombotic-disorders/hyperhomocysteinemia


Segev, A., Badani, H., Kapulnik, Y., Shomer, I., Oren-Shamir, M., & Galili, S. (2010). Determination of polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidant capacity in colored chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Journal of food science, 75(2), S115–S119. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01477.x


Song, J., & Kim, J. (2016). Role of Sirtuins in Linking Metabolic Syndrome with Depression. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience, 10, 86. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2016.00086


The George Mateljan Foundation. Garbanzo Beans. Retrieved February 2021 from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58

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