Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are some amazingly versatile legumes.
Roll them in spice for a delicious snack, put them roasted in a salad, use them as a baking ingredient, or eat them in a wrap.
There’s so many ways to enjoy the humble chickpea.
Add to that the long list of health benefits, and there’s no wonder why its rising in popularity around the world.
And this rise is showing no signs of slowing down.
In fact, if we look at Google Trends, we can see that worldwide searches for chickpeas have been rising steadily for over a decade:
To celebrate this, I’ve made this post on 14 interesting facts about chickpeas you should know about.
1. The Chickpea Is One Of The World’s First Cultivated Legumes
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Today, wild-growing chickpea plants are mostly found in Turkey and Syria.
These areas are probably where humans first started domesticating the plant for its legumes.
Remains of cultivated chickpeas have been found from as far back as 7500 years ago.
This makes it one of the world’s oldest cultivated legumes.
It would prove to be popular with many different peoples, as the plant food spread all over the globe via trading routes.
This can be clearly seen in history — the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Rome and Greece all loved their chickpeas.
2. It’s The Second Most Widely Grown Legume In The World
The chickpea is one of the most popular legumes in the entire world.
This is probably due to its combination of pleasant taste, great nutrition and ease of cultivation.
The only legumes that are grown more than chickpeas are soybeans.
Chickpeas have long been favored in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where they’re commonly used in traditional recipes.
In the past 10 years or so, they’ve become increasingly popular in the rest of the world as well.
3. The World Produced 12.1 Million Tons Of Chickpeas In 2016
Considering the small size of the legumes, that’s a lot of them!
The country that produced the most chickpeas in 2016 was India — by far.
They contributed a whopping 7.17 million metric tons of the total amount (source).
Behind them came:
- Australia with 1227 tons
- Pakistan with 537
- Turkey with 451
- United States with 222
4. Chickpeas Are One Of The Best Food Sources Of Folate
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential micronutrient.
It’s involved in many vital functions of the body — the most notable being the regeneration and growth of cells.
Folate is often overlooked, even by health-conscious people.
The daily recommended amount is 400 micrograms, which is most easily reached by eating a variety of plant foods.
One such plant food is the chickpea:
Just 100 grams of chickpeas will give you an astounding 557 mcg of folate (139% of RDV).
5. Ancient Romans Associated Chickpeas With The Goddess Venus
Pliny the Elder, a philosopher and author from ancient Rome, mentioned chickpeas in his writings.
He noted that the legumes were routinely offered to Venus — the Roman Goddess of love, beauty, sex, and fertility.
But why, exactly, were chickpeas associated with her?
Well, chickpeas were said to increase milk and sperm volume (oh, my!), as well as stimulating menstruation.
This made it a natural fit for Venus in the eyes of the ancient Romans.
Because of this, meals containing chickpeas were commonly eaten in erotic parties held in her honor.
6. Chickpeas Are Extremely High In Dietary Fiber
Getting enough fiber in your diet can give you a lot of health benefits.
It can reduce your chance of getting heart attacks, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Unfortunately, most people either neglect getting enough fiber or struggle to do so.
An easy way to meet the daily requirement of fiber is to eat chickpeas.
100 grams of dried chickpeas will give you 17.4 g of it — around 70% of your daily need!
7. Can Be Used As A (Caffeine-Free) Coffee Substitute
Ground-roasted chickpeas have been used as an alternative to coffee beans since the late 1700’s.
During the First World War, the legumes were reportedly grown specifically with this use in mind.
Although the global coffee supply is much more abundant than before, some people still prefer to use chickpeas.
As long as they’re ground-roasted, they can create a taste and consistency that’s similar to regular coffee (however, they don’t contain any caffeine).
This makes them useful for people who enjoy coffee but can’t handle too much (or any) of the stimulant.
8. Chickpeas Can Come In Many Different Colors
When we talk about chickpeas, most people think of the circular, light-beige legume we’re used to seeing.
However, depending on the breed of chickpea, the colors can vary a lot.
Besides the regular beige, there are green, black, brown, red and pinkish ones as well.
All varieties have a similar taste, texture and nutritional profile.
However, the darker-colored ones have been shown to have higher antioxidant activity, as well as containing more polyphenols and flavonoids.
9. Eating Chickpeas Regularly Can Lower Your Bad Cholesterol
Cardiovascular disease is a worldwide pandemic these days.
Most of us know at least one person who’ve struggled with their heart health.
Even with the cancer rate skyrocketing, heart disease still holds onto the number one spot when it comes to worldwide deaths.
One of the major risk factors associated with the disorder is elevated LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol) levels.
Thankfully, a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce your levels — in turn lowering your chances of getting heart problems.
10. The Chickpea Has 10 Different Names
Since the chickpea is one of the world’s most popular legumes, it naturally has a long list of different names.
Most people only know about “garbanzo” and “chickpea”, but there are many more.
Here’s the full list of commonly-used names:
- Bengal gram
- Ceci bean
- Chana dal
- Chick pea
- Egyptian pea
- Garbanzo bean
11. Chickpea Is The Main Ingredient In Hummus
If you’ve made your own hummus before, you’re probably rolling your eyes at this one.
However, those who haven’t done so rarely know that chickpeas are the main ingredient.
To Arabs, this is a well-known fact, though, since hummus simply means “chickpeas” in Arabic.
Hummus is a staple of Middle-Eastern culinary traditions, where it’s used the most.
Still, in the past 10 years it’s increasingly found its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of Western nations as well.
12. Chickpeas Are 23% Protein
With plant-based eating on the rise, people are looking to replace more of their meat and dairy products with healthier alternatives.
While plants are generally more nutrient dense than animal products, some people worry about the overall protein content.
Thankfully, you don’t need to look far to get high-quality plant protein.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do so is to eat legumes regularly — including chickpeas.
Just 100 grams of chickpeas will give you 19.3 g of protein.
13. Chickpea Plants Can Help Restore Depleted Soil
Chickpeas can be a delight for both farmers and backyard gardeners alike.
The plant brings a number of benefits to the surrounding environment.
For one, the chickpea plant can enrich soil with nitrogen.
This is due to the particular bacteria that live along the plant’s roots.
These bacteria are able to convert nitrogen in the air into the form plants need to flourish.
The deep roots of chickpea plants also play a role in stabilizing the earth around them — lowering the chance of erosion.
On top of that, they also secrete malic acid from their leaves and stems.
This organic acid is a natural insecticide, so most insects will stay away from where it’s growing.
14. Chickpeas Are Remarkably Rich In Essential Minerals
By now, you already know that chickpeas are chockfull of protein, folate and fiber.
But wait, there’s more:
They’re also an incredible good source of essential minerals.
Just 100 g of chickpeas will supply you with:
- Calcium – 105 mg (11% of RDV)
- Copper – 0.8 mg (42 %)
- Iron – 6.2 mg (35%)
- Magnesium – 115 mg (29%)
- Manganese – 2.2 mg (110%)
- Phosphorus – 366 mg (37%)
- Potassium – 875 mg (25%)
- Selenium – 8.2 mcg (12%)
- Zinc – 3.4 mg (23%)
In other words, besides being tasty and versatile, chickpeas are an extremely nutrient-dense food.
Whether you enjoy them plain, roasted, or as hummus, you can do so with a good conscience!