Coveted by A-list celebrities like Jennifer Anniston, Beyoncé, and Meghan Markle (psst, that’s Prince Harry’s current flame), the humble chickpea has come a long way from its three bean salad potluck days. No longer is it just a humdrum constituent of the cold, leaching salad bar in the back of dim Italian restaurants.
Now the most trending legume in mainstream media, chickpeas have climbed the ranks of the hierarchal bean ladder, stomping out competitors like edamame “so 2012” and yes, even outdoing a close contender, the auspicious lentil.
Commonly known called chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these powerhouse pulses have more than what meets the eye or in this case, the taste buds. Here are nine benefits to adding more chi-chi beans to your diet.
1) Increased Libido
Keeping your hormones in check can be as simple as watching what you put in your mouth. Chickpeas have what are known as phytoestrogens, which mimic similar qualities of those found in estrogen. If you find a decrease in sex drive, try tossing some chickpeas in your next salad.
Conversely, too much estrogen can also lead to an imbalance in hormones, and thereby decrease libido. Talk with your doctor if these symptoms don’t improve or persist with time.
2) Combat Constipation
Admit it, everyone has experienced the uncomfortable bloating and indigestion of constipation. Whether you cleaned a giant bowl of white pasta the night before, or can’t remember the last time you bit into an apple, common constipation is a condition that can be relieved with an increase in fiber.
Chickpeas are packed with not one, but two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are key features because soluble fiber acts as a vehicle, making a gel that gets things moving, while insoluble fiber is the “bulk” of what gets ingested and passed through the digestive tract. An adequate balance of both can be attained by eating a varied diet of whole grains and legumes in addition to fruits and vegetables.
3) Decrease Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
If you’re a woman over 50, experience night sweats and/or hot flashes, or have any symptoms similar to those found in women with menopause, then consider chickpeas an addition to your diet. Plant estrogen in chickpeas perform like the hormone found in humans. Foods high in plant estrogen may help alleviate those symptoms and reset a balance in hormones.
4) Sleep More Soundly
Have you ever heard someone say eating a banana before bed can help you sleep better? Are you ever sleepy after eating eggs or turkey? That’s because these boost melatonin, a hormone produced with the help of vitamin B6. Chickpeas contain more vitamin B6 than beef, poultry, and bananas, with more than half the recommended daily value. If you crave something sweet after dinner, try this faux cookie dough recipe made with—you guessed it, chickpeas—before climbing into bed. Your taste buds won’t even tell the difference.
5) Repair Muscle Tissue
Grab a spoonful of hummus after literally, “getting ripped” at the gym. Chickpeas repair and rebuild muscle with its high amount of protein. Unlike meat, chickpeas are low in saturated fat and won’t heighten cholesterol.
6) Protect Your Vision
7) Alternative Choice for Gluten Intolerance
Just because you can’t stomach gluten doesn’t mean you have to miss out on pizza and desserts! An alternative to wheat flour that’s been gaining a lot of traction is chickpea flour. Unlike regular, flour which contains gluten, flour made from chickpeas is gluten-free and can be substituted in your favorite recipes. Have a craving for crepes, cookies or brownies? There’s a recipe for virtually any food containing wheat flour, which means bakes sales are fair game for all.
8) Destroy Winter Dandruff
Healthy skin and scalp are essential in the winter months. Put down the shampoo laden with chemicals and reach for the kitchen blender instead. All you need for itchy, dry relief is a paste made with water and chickpeas or chickpea flour. It will save you an average of ten dollars and whatever’s leftover you can eat! (Just kidding.)
9) Give Your Heart a Break