10 interesting chickpea facts

The humble little chickpea is a pretty special legume. Eaten for centuries, there’s very good reason these guys have been on the menu for so long. Here are some interesting chickpea facts you may not know about.

  1. There is strong evidence that chickpeas were first cultivated in the Middle East a staggering 7500 years BC. The popularity of the chickpea quickly spread all over the world, and they were soon grown and consumed in many ancient civilisations such as Egypt, Greece and Rome.
  2. Chickpeas are known by many different names all over the world. Other names include garbanzo beans, a popular term in the US, bengal grams, egyptian peas, ceci beans and kabuli chana. Chickpeas come in a variety of different types and colours, not just the beige variety we are used to seeing in cans. Chickpeas can also be black, green, red and brown.
  3. Chickpeas are an agricultural wonder. Not only do chickpeas produce a valuable crop but at the same time they also provide a natural organic method of breaking the disease cycle in wheat and barley crops. This means less fungicide and less insecticide, resulting in a cleaner, greener environment. Pretty amazing.
  4. Legumes are included in the Australian Government recommended eating plan for a balanced diet in two categories! Legumes and beans are categorised with both vegetables and meat, making legumes an important part of a healthy balanced diet. For more information on recommended daily servings, visit our health centre: http://local.happysnackcompany/health-centre/importance-balanced-diet/
  5. These clever little plants actually restore depleted soils and are powerful nitrogen fixing legumes. Their deep root system plays an important role in stabilising soils and preventing erosion, they may use little or no fertiliser while enhancing the fertility of the soil, and, they are a dry land agricultural crop, using no agricultural water. To add to their incredible talents, the chickpea plant even has a natural insecticide in its leaves, which keeps the bugs away. Incredible stuff!
  6. Chickpeas are a great source of both soluble and dietary fibre, important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Soluble fibre may assist with reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream and helps maintain blood sugar levels, which may help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and also aid in managing diabetes. The dietary fibre in chickpeas and their low glycemic index (GI) may also assist with weight loss by making you feel fuller for longer.
  7. Chickpeas are an incredibly versatile ingredient to cook with. You can eat them canned, dried or roasted, hot or cold and they are inexpensive. Chickpeas can be used for making much, much more than just good old hummus. Try adding to soups instead of croutons, salads and stir frys for extra crunch, make delicious meat free patties or make a tomato chickpea stew to have with your Sunday bacon and eggs. There’s a plethora of chickpea recipes out there just waiting for you to discover.
  8. Ground chickpeas have been used as a coffee substitute since the 18th century and are still commonly used as a caffeine-free alternative today. Widely available, the taste is said to be delicious – why not give it a go!
  9. Chickpeas contain a huge number of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, vitamin b6, vitamin c, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. They are also high in protein so are a fantastic alternative to meat for vegetarians.
  10. India is the world’s number one leader in chickpea production, with a staggering 8,832,500 metric tons reportedly produced in 2013. Interestingly, the country coming in second place was Australia! With 813,300 tons produced in the same year. “Production of chickpea by countries” UN Food & Agriculture Organisation 2014.