Some say that people who eat kefir tend to live to be very old. Some say people who eat pulses such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans tend to live very long.
So what are these life-prolonging capabilities? Legumes have no fat, no cholesterol. They are gluten free and high in protein and fiber as well as minerals.
Chickpeas contain the minerals that support bone health; magnesium, potassium and calcium, as well as phosphate, iron and zinc.skeletal system support.
Fiber, both water-soluble and insoluble, is said to lower your cholesterol and have a very good cardio-protective effect. As little as 3/4 cup of chickpeas per day can help lower levels of the harmful LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in just one month. Chickpeas also contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), i.e. the body’s omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made.
The insoluble fiber in garbanzo beans is converted into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetic, propionic, and butyric acid. These SCFAs lower your risk of colon problems and provide support for our intestinal cells and digestive tract.
The high content of fiber in chickpeas also tend to boost your digestive system, which some might not take too well to in the beginning, especially if one is not used to a diet high in fiber. However, bloating and other symptoms will diminish as your stomach adjusts to this new challenge, so don’t be scared off in the upstart.
Chewing your food well is good advice, and will also help you here. And cooking your pulses with a bit of kombu seaweed works. Improvements in bowel function are actually seen with regular ingestion of chickpeas.
SUPERFOODS, ANTIOXIDANTS AND PHYTOCHEMICALS
Chickpeas are more healthy than one would think. They contain heaps of minerals such as molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, iron and zinc. They are a great source of protein and folate, and they boost your immune system and thyroid function, reduce inflammation and stabilize your blood sugar. The exceedingly high content of phytochemicals is what has made us consider chickpeas a superfood.
The outer seed coat of chickpeas is rich in antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin while the rest of the chickpea is high in the antioxidant compounds caffeic, vanillic, chlorogenic and ferulic acid. sThese antioxidants and other phytochemicals are known to help combat free radicals and reduce inflammation. Depending on the type and hence the color and thickness of the outer layer, garbanzo beans also contain significant amounts of the anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin and petunidin. Anthocyanins are a kind of plant pigment flavonoids. Beans, lentils and peas come in a variety of different colors. The more darker and colorful, the more antioxidants and flavonoids. mostly plant pigments. Kidney beans, pinto and the darker chickpeas and beans being higher in antioxidants, flavonoids and other plant pigments.
Some remove the coat when preparing chickpeas, missing out on heaps of healthy antioxidants.
FIBER AND BLOODSUGAR
No food is more valuable for blood sugar regulation. Chickpeas are high in fiber as well as protein, both of which promote blood sugar control and improve insulin resistance.
Chickpeas and other legumes are low glycemic food, bowhich assists stabilizing your blood sugar and helps insulin resistance. Low glycemic foods don’t raise your blood sugar very much when ingested. Chickpeas and other dried peas have a glycemic index of 32. Lentils have 21. Butter beans 36. The GI values of sprouted legumes are even lower as the content of carbs and thereby the glycemic load decrease by 2/3 when sprouting.
In a study published in 2007 in British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that a diet supplemented with chickpeas reduced visceral fat and improved insulin resistance in rats with laboratory-induced obesity. The researchers concluded that a diet rich in chickpeas would even help prevent diabetes.
Furthermore eating chickpeas on a regular basis will apparently also make you go for healthier food choices and reduce cravings for “empty” calories and highly-processed foods. When the subjects stopped eating chickpeas, however, their consumption of processed foods increased as well as snacking between meals and the overall daily caloric intake.
The good news is that consuming just half a cup of chickpeas per day was found to improve blood sugar control and insulin secretion within a week.
IT´S ALL IN THE PEEL..
As with potatoes and many fruits, most of the nutrients are found in the shell of the chickpeas. Chickpeas have a shell, though few are aware of this as the shell is semitransparent and it rarely comes off, even when cooking or sprouting the chickpeas.
Some go through a lot of effort to remove the shell, missing out on all the nutrients packed in the shell.
Few people are aware that chickpeas come in a variety of different colors, not just the common light “chickpea” color. The darker the skin the more antioxidants, flavonoids and other nutrients, hence the black and brown varieties are the more healthy, with the green chickpeas less nutritious and the beige ones least. As mentioned, most nutrients are found in the peel, and in the dark types of chickpeas the peel is thicker than the peel of the light ones. Flavonoids are plant pigments, found mostly in dark fruits, vegetables and berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, grapes, cherries, aronia, acai, and so on. They make up the plants immune system and also help our immune system.
FIXING NITROGEN FROM THE AIR
So where does the legumes get all this protein from? Peas, lentils and beans are some of the very few plants that can fixate nitrogen from the air (N2) and convert the nitrogen into ammonium (NH4) which is built into the plants’ amino acids. Legume plants are special this way. Clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, lupins and blue green algae also have this ability.
SPROUTING YOUR LEGUMES
How to eat legumes? Chickpeas, peas and beans you need to soak for minimum 4 hours. Then cook until soft. Lentils you can cook straight away, no soaking. Not to forget the sprouts! You can have the most crispy, juicy and super nutritious sprouts from chickpeas, lentil and beans. To make sprouts you likewise soak the legumes overnight, then rinse them a couple of times a day until they start to sprout. Then eat within a couple of days. If you leave them for too many days, they go dry and stringy.
When grains or legumes are soaked in water, they are activated and biochemical processes start, and the nutritional values shooting through the roof. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals and protein. At this point the little grain or seed is going to grow into a big tree or plant and it´ll need its energy. For instance, when sprouting kidney beans, the protein content goes up 50%, the nutritional value of vitamin A goes from 2% to 59% of DV, the value of sodium goes up by 5 times and the number of fats by 5 times, no less.
In a nutritional table of sprouted legumes from Journal of Food Science, vol. 40, you find that for instance the value of the B3-vitamin niacin goes from 0,5 to 2,1 mg pr. 100 calories when you sprout mungbeans. Vitamin C goes from 7,0 to 39 mg when sprouting alfalfa and the value of potassium goes from 43 to 68 mg. Sprouting lentils, the vitamin C value goes from 2 mg to 23 mg. The potassium in soy beans goes from 51 mg to 77 mg pr. 100 calories when sprouting them.
Dr. Paul Burkholder from the university of Minnesota sprouted oats and after 5 days of sprouting the B-vitamins skyrocketed. Vitamin B3 and B6 went up by 500%, B2 went up 1350%, B5 200%, B7 by 50%, folic acid 600% and inositol 100%.
FOOD WITH PULSES
Mediterranean food is said to be very healthy because it is extremely high in olive oil, vegetables and pulses. Indian dishes are also high in lentils and chickpeas. In South America they eat loads of beans. Middle Eastern food is known mostly for its legume salads, hummus and falafels, both made of chickpeas.
You can blend chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, fresh lemon juice and tahini to make hummus. Ramp up flavor even more by adding pine nuts, mint, parsley, sundried tomatoes, rosemary, beetroot, curry, thyme or roasted red peppers.
Hummus has omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids from the olive oil and the tahini is high in calcium. The lemon juice and the garlic are powerful antioxidants and contribute with anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties. Hummus is a really good source of calcium as well as tahini is very rich in calcium and other minerals. Even though sesame seeds are one of the best known sources of calcium, the calcium in sesame seeds is actually not accessible as the sesame seeds just pass though you whole and undigested, whereas with the calcium in ground up sesame seeds and tahini you will actually get the calcium that is listed in the nutritional value tables.
There’s heaps of ways to incorporate more of these super healthy, heart-breakingly cheap legumes in your diet.
Chickpea flour is great in your gluten free baking. So is lentil flour and bean flour, although less easy to come by. You can make a lentil porridge in the morning and bean or lentil bread spreads or patés for sandwiches. I personally adore lentil soup. Here you can find recipes for lentil pancakes, lentil muffins, lentil patties, lentil loaf and lentil porridge.
Cake doesn´t have to be butter, white sugar and white flour. You can make healthy cakes made of chickpeas, beans or lentils. Like these brownies made from black beans or chickpea cookies.
Add beans or chickpeas to most soups, stew and casseroles. Sprinkling sprouted pulses on top of your food will improve your food as well. Pulses just make a salad far more interesting, and will make you feel full from a salad or a soup, so you don´t fall into the bad food pleasure trap.
A culinary world of legumes is awaiting out there. Try Nigella Lawson´s recipe of white bean mash with rosemary.