Chickpea flour, also known as gram, besan or garbanzo bean flour, has been a staple of Indian cuisine for centuries.
Chickpeas are a universal type of bean with a mild nutty flavor, and chickpea flour is usually made from a variety called Bengal grams.
This flour, which you can easily cook at home, has recently gained worldwide popularity as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.
Chickpea flour – benefits for the human body
Below we list 9 useful properties of chickpea flour.
1. Rich in vitamins and minerals
Chickpea flour is loaded with important nutrients.
One cup (92 grams) of chickpea flour contains:
- Calories: 356
- Protein: 20 grams
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 53 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Thiamine: 30% of daily intake
- Folate: 101%
- Iron: 25%
- Phosphorus: 29%
- Magnesium: 38%
- Copper: 42%
- Manganese: 74%
One cup (92 grams) of chickpea flour contains a little more folic acid than needed per day. This vitamin plays an important role in preventing defects in the formation of the spinal cord during pregnancy ( 2 ).
In one observational study of more than 16,000 women, those who consumed flour enriched with extra folates and other vitamins gave birth to children with 68% fewer spinal cord defects than those who consumed regular flour ( 3 ).
Women who used fortified flour also had a 26% higher blood folate level than the control group.
Chickpea flour contains almost twice as much folate as an equal amount of fortified wheat flour. It is also an excellent source of several minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.
Chickpea flour is full of vitamins and minerals: 1 cup (92 grams) provides 101% of the daily value of folic acid and more than a quarter of your daily needs for some other nutrients.
2. May reduce the formation of harmful compounds in processed foods
Chickpeas contain beneficial antioxidants called polyphenols.
Antioxidants are compounds that fight unstable molecules called free radicals in your body that are thought to contribute to the development of various diseases.
Plant polyphenols have been shown to reduce the amount of free radicals in food and eliminate some of the damage they can do to your body ( 4 ).
In addition, chickpea flour is being studied for its ability to reduce acrylamide in processed foods. Acrylamide is an unstable by-product of the food industry. It is found in large quantities in appetizers based on flour and potatoes. This is a potentially carcinogenic substance associated with problems with fertility, nervous and muscle function, as well as with the activity of enzymes and hormones ( 7 ).
In one study comparing several types of flour, chickpea flour produces one of the lowest amounts of acrylamide when heated ( 8 ).
The researchers also found that using chickpea dough in potato chips reduces acrylamide formation compared to potato chips that were treated with antioxidants from oregano and cranberries ( 9 ).
Finally, another study showed that shortbread cookies made from a mixture of wheat and chickpea flour contained 86% less acrylamide than the same cookies made only from wheat flour ( 10 ).
Chickpeas contain antioxidants and can help fight free radicals. The use of chickpea flour in processed foods reduces the amount of harmful acrylamide in them.
3. Has fewer calories than regular flour
The benefit of chickpea flour is that it is a great alternative to wheat flour if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake.
Compared to the same portion of refined wheat flour, 1 cup (92 g) of chickpea flour contains about 25% fewer calories. This means that it is less dense.
Energy density and serving size have been carefully studied in terms of their role in weight management. Researchers believe that maintaining the serving sizes you are used to when choosing foods with fewer calories is a more effective weight loss strategy than just eating less ( 11 , 12 ).
In a 12-week randomized study of 44 overweight adults, participants who were prescribed to eat more low-calorie foods lost 1.8-3.6 kg more than those who received more complex dietary instructions ( 13 ).
Thus, replacing wheat flour with chickpea flour can help you reduce calories without changing the serving size.
Chickpea flour has 25% fewer calories than white flour, which makes it less dense in energy intensity. Eating lower calorie foods can help you reduce your calorie intake by eating the same serving sizes you are used to.
4. Gives more satiety than wheat flour
Researchers have theorized for decades that legumes, including chickpeas and lentils, reduce hunger.
A 2014 study review noted that the inclusion of legumes in the diet increases satiety after eating by 31% ( 14 ).
Moreover, chickpea flour itself can reduce hunger. Although not all studies agree, some have found a connection between the consumption of chickpea flour and an increased sense of satiety ( 15 , 16 ).
Chickpea flour can reduce hunger by regulating the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. A lower level of ghrelin is believed to contribute to a feeling of fullness. In an observational study in 16 women, those who ate cookies consisting of 70% white flour and 30% chickpea flour had lower ghrelin levels than participants who ate cookies made from 100% white flour ( 16 ).
However, more research is needed to fully understand the effect of chickpea flour on the hormones of appetite and hunger.
Chickpea flour can reduce hunger by regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin. However, more research is needed to study this effect.
5. Affects less blood sugar than wheat flour
Chickpea flour contains about half of the carbohydrates found in white flour. And thus, it can have a different effect on blood sugar.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is an indicator of how quickly foods break down into sugars, which can increase blood sugar.
Glucose, the sugar that your body prefers to use for energy, has a GI of 100, which means it raises your blood sugar level fastest. White flour has a GI of about 70 ( 19 ).
GI of chickpeas is 6, and snacks made from chickpea flour have a GI of about 28-35. These are low GI foods that increase blood sugar more slowly than white flour ( 20 ).
Two observational studies involving 23 people found that eating foods made from chickpea flour lowers blood sugar levels compared with foods made from white or whole wheat flour ( 22 ).
A similar study involving 12 healthy women showed that whole grain bread made from 25–35% chickpea flour had a much lower effect on blood sugar than white bread and 100% whole wheat bread ( 15 ).
However, more and more research is needed to study the relationship between chickpea flour and blood sugar.
Chickpea flour is a low-GI food that gradually affects blood sugar. In some small studies, eating foods made from chickpea flour resulted in lower blood sugar levels than foods made from wheat flour. However, more research is needed.
6. Contains a lot of fiber
Chickpea flour contains a lot of dietary fiber, since chickpea itself is naturally rich in this nutrient.
One cup (92 g) of chickpea flour gives about 10 g of fiber – three times more fiber in white flour.
Fiber provides many health benefits, and in chickpea flour it contributes to a good fat metabolism in the body.
In a 12-week study, 45 adults consumed four 300g cans of chickpeas. a week, without making any other changes to the diet, lowered total cholesterol by 15.8 mg / dl. The effect was most likely associated with the content of fiber in chickpeas ( 23 ).
A similar study conducted in 47 adults showed that eating chickpeas for 5 weeks reduces total cholesterol by 3.9% and LDL cholesterol (bad) by 4.6% compared with eating wheat ( 24 ).
Chickpeas also contain a type of fiber called resistant starch . In a study evaluating resistant starch in several foods, roasted chickpeas were among the top two along with unripe bananas ( 25 ).
Studies show that chickpeas can consist of 30% resistant starch, depending on how it is processed. One analysis showed that chickpea flour prepared from pre-cooked chickpea contained 4.4% resistant starch ( 26 ).
Resistant starch remains undigested until it reaches the colon, where it serves as a food source for healthy intestinal bacteria. This has been associated with a reduced risk of a number of diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer ( 28 ).
Chickpea flour is a rich source of fiber that can help improve blood fat levels. It also contains a type of fiber called resistant starch, which has been linked to several health benefits.
7. Contains more protein than any other flour.
Chickpea flour contains more protein than other types of flour, including white and whole grain flour.
One serving (92 g) of a serving of chickpea flour gives 20 g of protein, compared with 13 g in white flour and 16 g in whole wheat flour.
Your body needs protein to build muscle and recover from injuries and illnesses. It also plays an important role in weight management.
High protein foods keep you full for longer, and your body has to burn more calories to digest these foods ( 30 ).
In addition, due to its role in muscle growth, consuming enough protein will help you maintain muscle mass, which is especially important if you are losing weight ( 31 ).
In addition, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, as it contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, the structural components of protein, that must come from your diet.
The remaining methionine can be found in large quantities in other plant foods, such as lima beans.
The chick-pea flour more protein than wheat flour, which can help reduce hunger and increase the number of calories you consume. Chickpeas are an ideal source of protein for vegetarians as it provides almost all of the essential amino acids.
8. An excellent substitute for wheat flour
Chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour.
It has a better nutrient profile than refined flour, as it provides more vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, but fewer calories and carbohydrates.
Since it does not contain wheat, it is also suitable for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies to wheat. However, if you are worried about cross-contamination, look for certified gluten-free varieties.
In addition, chickpea flour behaves like refined flour in fried and baked foods.
This is a dense flour that mimics the effects of gluten in wheat flour to some extent when added to structure and chewing.
In an attempt to create a new gluten-free bread, the researchers found that a combination of three parts chickpea flour and one part potato or cassava starch was perfect. However, using only chickpea flour also provides an acceptable product ( 35 ).
In addition, replacing only 30% of wheat flour in the biscuit recipe with chickpea flour allowed to increase the content of nutrients and protein in biscuits, while maintaining a pleasant taste and appearance ( 36 ).
Chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour, as it acts similarly during cooking. This is a great alternative for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or allergies to wheat.
9. Easy to cook at home
You can easily cook chickpea flour at home. All you need is dried chickpeas, a baking sheet, a food processor and a sieve.
Here’s how to make your own chickpea flour:
- If you want fried chickpea flour, place the dried chickpea on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 175 ° C or until golden brown. This step is optional.
- Grind chickpeas in a food processor until fine powder is formed.
- Sift flour to separate any large pieces of chickpea that have not been ground. You can discard these pieces or reinsert them through a food processor.
For maximum shelf life, store chickpea flour at room temperature in an airtight container. Thus, it can be stored for 6–8 weeks.
Chickpea flour can be used in several ways:
- as a substitute for wheat flour in baked goods
- combined with wheat flour to improve the health of your baking
- as a natural thickener in soups and curries
- to cook traditional Indian dishes such as pacora (vegetable pancakes) or laddu (small dessert pastries)
- make pancakes or pancakes
- as light and airy breading for fried foods
At home, it is easy to make chickpea flour using only dried chickpeas and a few common kitchen tools. Chickpea flour can be used in many ways.
The benefits of chickpea flour are due to its many nutrients. This is a great alternative to refined wheat flour, as it has less carbohydrates and calories, but more protein and fiber.
Studies show that it can have antioxidant potential and can lower the levels of the harmful compound acrylamide in processed foods.
It has culinary properties similar to wheat flour and is suitable for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies to wheat.
Chickpea flour is a tasty, nutritious and simple product that will help improve the health of your diet.
You can find chickpea flour in health food stores, although it is also incredibly easy to make at home.