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Chickpea Flour – A Nutritional Guide

Dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are ground into a powder to make chickpea flour. It’s a common component in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, where people use it to make falafel and hummus, among other foods. The flour is exceptionally nutritious since garbanzo beans are rich in protein, fibre, minerals, and B vitamins. 

Chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour, besan, or gram flour) can be a great ingredient to get more protein and fibre into your diet. It’s a versatile ingredient in the vegan diet, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipes. In addition, its mild, nutty flavour compliments a wide range of savoury and sweet recipes.

The most significant distinction between the three varieties of chickpea flour is the types of chickpeas used to make them. One is Kabuli chickpeas, the typical tan-coloured chickpeas you’re probably most familiar with. The next is desi chickpeas, which are smaller and have rougher hulls. Depending on where the seed pods are from, desi chickpeas are darker in colour, ranging from green to brown to practically black.

The dark variant of desi chickpeas, also known as Kala chana or Bengal chickpeas, is used to make the traditional chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or besan. The process involves discarding brown hulls of dried chickpeas and splitting the seeds to make flour. Lentils, peas, and chickpeas are all members of the Fabaceae botanical family, although they are separate species.

The HealthifyMe Note

Chickpea flour can make patties and veggie burgers, thicken sauces, soups, stews, flatbreads, batter-based dishes like pancakes and waffles deep-frying batters for a variety of foods. It is an excellent addition to quick bread, cookies, and muffins when coupled with other gluten-free flours.

Varieties of Chickpea Flour

One way to make chickpea flour is to grind chana dal into a fine powder, the prevalent form called besan (or gram flour). The alternative variation involves flouring dried Kabuli chickpeas, the usual tan-coloured ones (chickpea flour). 

The two are comparable but not identical. Besan produced with desi chickpeas will have a more refined, denser texture. On the other hand, chickpea flour prepared from ordinary garbanzos will be coarser and fluffier. The flavour will be comparable, but the main difference will be the amount of liquid required to make a batter of the same consistency. It will take less water to make Besan.

Nutritional Properties of Chickpea Flour

According to the USDA, 100g of chickpea flour has the following nutritional values:

Energy: 387 kcalProtein: 22.4 gFat: 6.6 gCarbohydrates: 57.8 gFibre: 10.8 gIron: 4.86mgCalcium: 45 gMagnesium: 166 mgVitamin K: 9.1 µg

Nutrition Facts

Like other legumes, chickpea flour offers a plant-based protein and fibre that slow digestion, promote fullness, manage body weight, and prevent heart disease. Chickpea flour also provides a significant amount of carbs, most of which come from fibre, sugar and the remaining from starch.

The glycemic index of chickpea flour is 44, which helps in rapid weight loss and regulates blood pressure.

Chickpea flour is also high in minerals and vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, folate, thiamine, magnesium and potassium, which positively boost heart health. Folate is an essential vitamin during pregnancy.

Health Benefits of Chickpea Flour

According to studies, since chickpea flour contains more protein, fibre, and vitamins than white flour, substituting chickpea flour for refined wheat flour boosts the nutritional value of the foods. It’s also abundant minerals necessary for strong bones and teeth, a healthy immune system, and normal muscle and nerve function.

Here are some of the health benefits of chickpea flour.

Chickpea Flour Are Heart-Friendly

Studies suggest that eating a diet high in non-soy legumes may assist in lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. That makes it a healthier choice for a heart-healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet, for example, includes legumes, and there is substantial evidence of the diet’s health advantages. 

Safe for Diabetics

Studies reveal that people with diabetes may benefit from foods made with chickpea flour because fibre helps reduce the absorption of dietary carbohydrates. As a result, it does not spike your blood sugar levels.

Promotes Gut Health

Chickpeas and chickpea flour include resistant starch, which sustains the good bacteria in the large intestine and improves gut health. According to studies, these bacteria aid in the prevention of metabolic illnesses like obesity, colon cancer, and diabetes.

Aids in the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects

Chickpea flour is rich in B vitamin folate (folic acid). Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should have lots of folates to avoid neural tube birth abnormalities like spina bifida. Chickpea flour can be a rich source of folate that you can add to your diet.

Promotes Satiety

Foods made using chickpea flour can be healthy for people trying to lose weight since they contain protein and fibre. These foods keep you fuller for longer and help you feel satisfied between meals, reducing your hunger and the urge to snack.

Gluten-Free Diet Support

Since chickpea flour is a product of legumes, it is gluten-free. However, when purchasing flour, use caution due to the possibility of cross-contamination from production or packaging equipment.

The HealthifyMe Note

Chickpea flour is full of nutrients. It contains fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc., that aids in managing blood sugar levels, promotes heart and gut health, prevents neural tube defects, and helps in weight loss by providing a long-lasting feeling of fullness. It is also suitable for gluten intolerant people as it is gluten-free. Moreover, it also has high potassium and low sodium content. It is no secret that foods rich in potassium significantly lowers blood pressure. 

Making Chickpea Flour at Home

If you do not wish to buy chickpea flour from the market, you can easily make it at home. 

Take dried garbanzo beans in a food processor or coffee grinder to make a powder. You can also make chickpea flour from canned chickpeas. First, rinse them, pat them dry, and then spread them out on a baking sheet to roast for 30 to 40 minutes at 450 degrees F. Allow them to cool before grinding them into flour.

Chickpea flour has a pleasant nutty flavour that complements a variety of dishes. You can use your flour in various ways once you’ve prepared it. Although chickpea flour may not be suitable for making bread with yeast, it is ideal for quick bread such as banana bread, muffins, and cakes.

Chickpea flour can be ideal for making high-protein wraps and pancakes, and it can also add protein content to vegetarian foods. In addition, adding chickpea flour to non-fried snacks like brownies and cookies can make them nutritious. However, you should always choose dishes that are generally lower in fat, sugar, and calories per serving to keep the bean flour’s health advantages.

Ways to Use Chickpea Flour

You can use chickpea flour as a replacement for all-purpose flour.You can use it as a natural thickener in soups and curries.You can use it in combination with wheat flour for making chapati.You can use it to make oil-free pancakes or chillas.You can use it in making pizza dough.

Healthy Recipes for Chickpea Flour

Oil-free Dhokla

Dhokla is a famous snack in Gujarat, India. It is healthy, filling and tasty. There are many varieties of Dhokla using cereals and pulses like chickpea flour and Rawa flour. This “Oil-free Dhokla” version is equally delicious but low on calories to make it healthier.

Serves: 10 pieces

Preparation time: 20-30 min

Ingredients

Chickpea flour (Besan): 1 cupRava (Semolina): 1 tbsp (optional)Chillies: 2 finely choppedGinger: ½ inch gratedWater: ¾ to 1 cupCoriander: ¼ cup, finely choppedCurry Leaves: ¼ cup, finely choppedMustard Seeds: ½ tspHing (Asafoetida): 1 pinchEno Fruit Salt: 1 tspSalt: As per tasteCoconut: 2 tbspLemon juice: 1 tbsp

Method of Preparation

Take 2 cups of water in a steamer and boil it over a medium flame.Oil your baking tray with ½ tsp oil and keep ready.Mix all the essential ingredients except Eno fruit salt and lemon juice in a bowl and make a smooth paste without any lumps.Now, add Eno fruit salt into the mixture, stir in one direction for two minutes & pour into the greased plate/tray.Place this tray on the steamer, and steam it for 20 min over medium flame.Now, take a toothpick or knife and insert it into the Dhokla to check whether it is ready. If a clean toothpick comes out, that means your Dhokla is ready.Turn off the flame, and wait for 5-10min to cool down.Take a knife, and cut down the Dhokla into squares. Garnish it with coriander, coconut, and pepper and drizzle the lemon juice on top.Serve with green chilli and coriander-mint chutney.

Besan Chilla Recipe

Chila, a pancake with a nutty flavour and chickpea taste, makes it a tasty breakfast option. Besan flour is naturally high in protein, and it is also popular Indian street food.

Serves: 2 servings

Preparation time: 10 min

Ingredients

Chickpea flour (besan): 100 gOnion: 1 (finely chopped)Tomato: 1 (finely chopped)Coriander leaves (cilantro): 2 tbsp (finely chopped)Green chillies: 1 tbsp (finely chopped) Ginger: ½ inch (finely chopped)Ajwain (carom seeds): ½ tbspTurmeric powder: ¼ tbspWater: ¾ to 1 cup or add as required salt to tasteOil (only for brushing)

Preparation

Add chickpea flour, onion, tomato, ginger, green chillies, ground spices, carom seeds, coriander leaves and salt.Add ½ cup of water and mix to make a smooth, flowing consistency in the batter; if the batter looks thick, add more water depending on the quality and texture of the besan. Make sure no lumps should be there.Heat a non-stick pan or Tawa on a medium-low flame.Take a spoon full of chickpea flour batter, pour it onto the pan, and spread lightly and gently to prevent the chilla from breaking.After brushing a few drops of oil all over. Cook the chilla for 2-3 minutes on each side.Continue to cook till the base gets a golden and crispy texture.Fold and serve chilla hot with coriander, mint chutney, or tomato ketchup.

Nutrition per Serving

Calories: 108 kcalFat: 6 gCholesterol: 1 mgSodium: 210 mgPotassium: 168 mgCarbohydrates: 10 gProtein: 4 g

Storage and Food Safety

You can find it in the natural or international foods section, and you could also look at raw food stores and small cooperatives. Keep chickpea flour bags at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. Then, reseal the bag, place the flour in a sealable container, and store it in a cool, dry location like the refrigerator. If you need to keep chickpea flour for a long period, it’s best to refrigerate it.

Potential Drawbacks of Chickpea Flour

Allergic Reaction

Some people are allergic to legumes, including chickpeas; they may feel stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting and itching. It is best to consult your doctor before eating chickpea flour if you are allergic to chickpea. Chronic symptoms include diarrhoea, shortness of breath and a fatal drop in blood pressure.

Interference with Medications

People on some medications, such as beta-blockers for heart problems, should limit their potassium consumption since their blood potassium level is high. However, chickpea flour has abundant potassium. Hence, it is best to limit its consumption.

Uric Acid Accumulation

Chickpeas contain the chemical purine, which produces too much uric acid, causing gout when broken down. In addition, the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints causes gout.

Problems with The Digestive System

Certain people may have difficulty eating beans, bean-based foods such as chickpea flour, and even all grains due to antinutrients and enzymes. In addition, most legumes contain bioactive substances affecting digestion and nutrient absorption, such as enzyme inhibitors and phenolic compounds.

Conclusion

Garbanzo bean flour is made from ground chickpeas and is commonly known as gram flour or besan. It is prevalent in the Middle East, India, and Africa. Protein, fibre, folate, manganese, copper, magnesium, and other nutrients are abundant in gram flour. In addition, it is filling and can help with digestion and heart health. 

Making homemade chickpea flour is straightforward if you have a food processor. Soak, dehydrate/dry, and grind the beans to make this gluten-free flour. You can use it in baking, soups, and as a substitute for ordinary flour. It has a flavour that is naturally sweet and rich, akin to coconut flour. Make pizza crusts, bread, muffins, and cookies with it. 

Chickpea flour is an excellent alternative to regular white or refined flour. Making a healthy choice and living a healthy lifestyle will assist in preventing unfavourable health conditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. Is chickpea flour low in carbs?

A. Chickpea flour is high in nutritional elements and an excellent substitute for refined wheat flour but high in carbohydrates. So it is not a good option for those on a keto or low-carb diet. Should consult a health specialist before incorporating it into your diet.  

Q. Is chickpea flour high in protein?

A. Chickpea flour contains more protein than other flour, such as white and whole wheat flour. Chickpea flour has 20g of protein per cup (92g), compared to 13g in white flour and 16g in whole-wheat flour. So, it is beneficial in increasing muscle mass and strengthening,  reducing appetite, building bones and boosting metabolism.  

Q. Is chickpea flour good for weight loss?

A. If you’re attempting to cut calories, chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour. One cup (92g) of chickpea flour has around 25% fewer calories than the same amount of refined wheat flour, indicating a lower energy density. The significance of energy density and portion size in weight management is no secret. Researchers believe that sticking to your regular portions but choosing lower-calorie items is a more effective weight-loss technique than simply eating less. 

Q. Is chickpea flour keto-friendly?

A. 100g of chickpea flour has around 57.8g of carbohydrates and 10.8g of fibre. So, chickpeas are high in carbs. Hence, it is not a keto-friendly option at all.  According to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations, carbs’ daily intake should be between 225-325 grams a day.  

Q. Which flour is lowest in carbs?

A. Almond flour is the lowest carb content and is used widely for a keto diet. The carbohydrate content, according to USDA, for 100 grams, is 21.43 grams but may vary as per the brand. It is entirely gluten-free. Almond flour is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and other essential minerals. It helps increase HDL(good cholesterol) level, promotes weight loss, provides instant energy and improves mental health.  

Q. Is chickpea flour better than white flour?

A. Yes, chickpea flour is an excellent white flour replacement. It has a better nutritional profile than refined flour, as it contains more vitamins, minerals, and fibre while containing fewer calories and carbohydrates. In addition, chickpea flour is a richer source of protein than white flour, which is helpful in the growth and development of the body. 

Q. Is chickpea flour better than oat flour?

A. Both chickpea flour and oats flour are nutrient-dense. However, if compared, chickpeas are significantly high in folate, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. The protein content is more in chickpeas, and oats have a higher carbohydrate, fat, thiamin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid content. Therefore, chickpea flour is better than oats flour.  

Q. Which flour is best for weight loss?

A. Almond flour, unlike wheat flour, is high in protein, making you full for an extended period. Additionally,  it includes good fats and vitamin E, making it one of the greatest flours for weight loss. It’s also gluten-free and high in magnesium, iron, and calcium. It supports weight loss by providing essential nutrients.  

Q. Is chickpea flour hard to digest?

A. Chickpeas are high in soluble fibre and resistant starch, contributing to the flour’s low glycemic index, which helps in rapid weight loss. The presence of fibre content makes them a powerhouse in assisting digestion, reducing constipation, and even promoting weight reduction by filling you up. Therefore, they can easily digest; however, too much consumption can be hard to digest.  

Q. Does chickpea flour make you gassy?

A. Because of their high fibre content, beans, lentils, and chickpeas are renowned for causing bloating and wind. Despite this, you may not need to stay away from them entirely, and many people are more tolerant of canned beans than dried legumes. While sprouted chickpea flour is difficult to come by, it may be an alternative if conventional roasted chickpeas irritate your stomach and create digestive issues like gas and bloating. 

Q. Can chickpea flour cause bloat?

A. Chickpeas are high in oligosaccharides and sugars in rye, onions, and garlic. Because they are present in high concentrations in chickpeas, a large portion must travel through our system, resulting in more prolonged and severe bloating or discomfort.

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