Chickpea flour is an ingredient that has been with us for hundreds of years. Due to its versatility and excellent nutritional composition, we still consume it. Only with the advancement of research and detection methods, today we know much better than before the advantages offered by its consumption.
Chickpeas are frankly versatile legumes. From them and by pressing and drying, a flour used to prepare other foods can be obtained. This flour, which we can easily use at home, has been increasing in popularity because gluten-free, something necessary for those people who are celiac.
Therefore, we dedicate this article to chickpea flour and to know the benefits offered by its consumption, through the contribution of several refuted international investigations.
Benefits of chickpea flour
Balanced nutritional composition
Chickpea flour is a nutrient rich in vitamins and minerals. It is an interesting source of protein and fiber, although it is also valued for its high content of vitamin groups and essential minerals.
The consumption of one cup (approximately 90 g) of chickpeas, give us the following nutritional relationship:
- Energy: 356 kcal
- Proteins: 20 g
- Grease: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 5 g
- Fiber: 10 g
- Thiamine: 30% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Folate: 101% of the Cor
- Magnesium: 38% of the CoR
- Phosphorus: 29% of the CoR
- Iron: 25% of the CoR
- Manganese: 74% of the CoR
- Copper: 42% of the CoR
As you can see, it is a food rich in folic acid, and with the equivalent of one serving we can complete the daily needs of this compound. This vitamin plays an essential role in the during the development of the fetus in pregnancy, and it is recommended to increase the daily dose during this period.
In research conducted on more than 16,000 pregnant women, newborns whose mothers consumed folic acid-additive flour along with other vitamins had 68% fewer spinal cord defects than those mothers who consumed normal flour. [See study]
In this study, a 26% higher content was observed in blood tests in those mothers who took folic acid compared to those who did not.
The interesting thing about this is that chickpea flour contains almost twice as much folic acid than normal flour, a compelling reason to try it at least during the gestation stage.
In turn, the excellent nutritional ratio of proteins, fiber and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese is added.
Can reduce the free radicals we consume daily
Compared to the active pollutants that we consume daily (tobacco smoke, alcohols, processed foods, etc.), antioxidants are the main weapon to combat the free radicals generated.
These compounds present in chickpea flour and represented by polyphenols, have the ability to neutralize the presence of potentially oxidizing free radicals at the cellular level. These free radicals are associated with various inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular problems.
It has been shown that polyphenols of plant origin reduce the presence of free radicals in food and reverse part of the damage they can cause in our body. [See information]
The consumption of chickpea flour has been investigated to reduce the negative activity of acrylamide in processed foods. This compound has recently been associated with cancer risk and is obtained from fried foods, with the characteristic color to golden or toasted.
In other parallel studies, it was observed that flour from chickpea produced the least amount of acrylamide in battered and subsequently fried foods, compared to other types of flours. [See study]
The same also happens when other antioxidant compounds are used, such as oregano or thyme mixed with potatoes. Fried. It also happens with buns and pastries (such as cookies) made with chickpea flour versus wheat flour.
Lower caloric content compared to other flours
Chickpea flour is a very good alternative to wheat flour if we seek to reduce the caloric intake in weight loss diets.
If we compare a serving of both flours, chickpea flour provides 25% fewer calories compared to wheat flour. Something remarkable seeing that both foods are an important energy source.
Research relates greater weight loss when, equal in quantity, less caloric foods are used, compared to reducing the amount consumed.
Has more satiating power than wheat flour
Legumes are recognized for their high protein intake. In general, this type of food has a great satiating power. If we compare chickpea flour with wheat flour, the satiating power of the legume is up to 31% higher. [See study]
The origin of its satiating power is not known for sure, since even the contribution of calories is lower. Some research has linked the contribution of the hormone ghrelin (known as the hunger hormone) of chickpea flour with satiety. Several studies have found a higher ghrelin content in people who habitually consumed flour from chickpeas compared to wheat.
In any case, more research is needed to know the real role of ghrelin and the feeling of fullness.
Has less impact on blood sugar levels
The incidence of a food on blood glucose levels is related to its carbohydrate content. Therefore, having chickpea flour half as many carbohydrates as white flour, its behavior in the glycemic index (GI) is different.
The decomposition into sugars of chickpea is much slower than other types of flours. If the GI of sugar is 100, chickpea flour has an approximate value between 28 and 35.
2 clinical trials found a markedly lower glucose level in people who took flour made from chickpea versus that of regular wheat. [See study]
Higher fiber content
Legumes provide a higher fiber content than many cereals, so if we are looking for foods rich in fiber we have a good alternative with chickpea flour.
Specifically, the fiber content of this legume is 3 times higher than that offered by white flour, with up to 10 grams per serving.
A diet high in fiber is recommended to ensure proper intestinal health, being associated with the prevention of serious diseases and a lower level of fat in the blood.
A 3-month study of 45 people who consumed 300 grams/week and made no further changes to their usual diet reduced total cholesterol by 15.8 mg/dl. [See study]
However, not all types of fiber are created equal. In the case of chickpeas, you have to count on it containing resistant starch, up to 30% of the total fiber. When they are processed, this value usually decreases markedly.
Resistant starch is so named because it reaches the large intestine without being digested, so it serves as food for intestinal bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
This component has been named in several investigations where it was related to the disease prevention such as type 2 diabetes, heart problems, or colon cancer.
High protein content
The protein content of chickpea flour is superior compared to other white flours, even whole grains.
A serving of 92 grams of flour from chickpea has a volume of 20 g of protein. This same amount in white flour is 13 g and in whole wheat flour 16 g.
This makes it also satiate more than other foods, even with lower caloric intake. Therefore, chickpeas are recommended in the eating habit of athletes, especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Substitute for wheat flour
Wheat flour has the drawback of its high gluten content, so it is not appropriate for celiac people. The nutritional profile of chickpea flour is more optimized than wheat flour, containing more fiber and protein and lower caloric intake (less carbohydrates).
Its behavior when used in the kitchen, for battering or frying is the same of good than that of wheat, although it is a little thicker and denser.
You can replace part of the total wheat flour in the prepared and baked. For example, you can replace 30% with chickpea flour, and gradually increase until we adapt to its flavor.
Read more: 5 properties of chickpeas that you did not know.
Uses of chickpea flour
Currently you can use this product to prepare the following recipes and foods:
- Light and aerated breading for fried foods.
- Mixed with wheat flour to improve nutritional properties.
- Substitute for wheat flour in cooking.
- In traditional Indian recipes.
- Use as a natural thickener in soups and curries.