For an amazing source of vegetable protein, eat chickpeas. These legumes are also known as garbanzo beans and ‘kabuli chana’. They’re a staple in Mediterranean cuisine but have become more popular in the United States. You can find them at any grocery store.
If you’re one of the 29.1 million people who have diabetes1, don’t shy away from chickpeas. They can do amazing things for your health! Here are five ways chickpeas can help diabetics.
5 Ways Chickpeas Can Help Diabetics
1. Helps Glycemic Control
Chickpeas are good for diabetes because they have tons of fiber. This carbohydrate can naturally keep your glucose in check, which is crucial for both, management and prevention. Fiber isn’t digested by the body so it doesn’t change blood glucose.2 It’s a big help if you already have high blood glucose or hyperglycemia.3
The recommended intake is 20 to 35 grams a day. Just ½ cup of chickpeas has 12.2 grams! They’re perfect for tossing in a salad, rice, or pasta dish. You can even make hummus or chickpea burgers to switch things up.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 50 grams of fiber can do wonders for type-2 diabetics. It significantly decreases blood glucose and therefore, improves glycemic control.4
Fiber intake should always be increased slowly. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of constipation. Drinking lots of water will also help.5
2. Promotes Weight Loss
You’re more likely to develop diabetes if you’re overweight. And if you already have it, those pounds will just worsen the disease. However, chickpeas are full of fiber and protein. Both nutrients will help your weight loss efforts.
Fiber increases satiety, keeping you full for a long time. You’ll be less likely to feel famished later on. Bingeing will be less likely! It’ll also be easy to eat more regular, healthy meals.
Half a cup of chickpeas also has 20 grams of protein. It has a similar effect to fiber but also increases thermogenesis. This is the process of heat production by the body, which burns calories.6 The American Heart Association shares that losing just five to seven percent of your body weight will reduce your risk by half.7 Eating chickpeas will help you do just that.
3. Improves Cholesterol
Cholesterol also plays a role in the development of type-2 diabetes. A greater risk is linked to high total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.8 But thanks to the fiber in chickpeas, you can naturally improve these levels.
It works by trapping bile which is partly made of cholesterol. It’s also used for healthy digestion. When fiber in the stool is excreted, it takes bile with it. As a result, LDL cholesterol is broken down to make just enough bile for digestion.9
The desirable total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL. LDL should be 129 mg/dL or less, and HDL should be more than 40 mg/dL.10 These numbers are best for diabetes prevention.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
The cholesterol benefits of chickpeas also help blood pressure, which is closely linked to diabetes. In fact, 2 in 3 diabetics have high blood pressure.11 So it’s important to try and prevent it.
When there’s less cholesterol in the blood, the arteries are less likely to harden. This means that the heart won’t have to work so hard to push blood through. The result is better blood pressure, which is great news for diabetics.
A blood pressure of 120/80 is considered to be healthy.12
5. Increases Energy
Chickpeas aren’t usually associated with energy. But its high iron content will give you a boost! You’ll be more likely to exercise, which benefits the other diabetes risk factors on this list.
If you don’t get enough iron, you’ll have low energy levels. However, you can get 4.3 milligrams of iron in half a cup of chickpeas. It’ll help you reach the recommended intake of 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women.13
If you have diabetes, chickpeas can be a part of a healthy eating plan. Canned beans are easy to prepare but be sure to rinse them with water first. This will remove added sodium.
|↑1||Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑2, ↑5||How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels? Joslin Diabetes Center.|
|↑3||High Blood Glucose. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑4||Chandalia, Manisha, Abhimanyu Garg, Dieter Lutjohann, Klaus von Bergmann, Scott M. Grundy, and Linda J. Brinkley. “Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” New England Journal of Medicine 342, no. 19 (2000): 1392-1398.|
|↑6||Paddon-Jones, Douglas, Eric Westman, Richard D. Mattes, Robert R. Wolfe, Arne Astrup, and Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.|
|↑7||Understand Your Risk for Diabetes. American Heart Association.|
|↑8||All About Cholesterol. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑9||Lambeau, Kellen V., and Johnson W. McRorie. “Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2017).|
|↑10||Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know. NIH Medline Plus.|
|↑11, ↑12||High Blood Pressure. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑13||Iron. National Institutes of Health.|