Chickpeas

I probably first tasted hummus in the mid-nineties. The world was still catching up to the incredible joys of Mediterranean food. My favourite since is undoubtedly from Oren’s Hummus on University Avenue in Palo Alto. There is truly something magical about their hummus. Made from chickpeas or garbanzo beans, hummus and many similar derivative foods pack a punch in nutrition value.

A cup of chickpeas has about 250 calories but 12.5 gms of fibre, 14.5 gms of protein, significant amounts of manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Especially, to a vegetarian, this is like dying and going to heaven. Very few foods have so much protein, fibre and minerals rolled into one. Unlike processed carbohydrates, chickpeas are slow carbs meaning they take time to digest in your body. The slow digestion means that they do not cause a high sugar spike when ingested. The protein and the fibre mean that it leaves you feeling full longer and can kerb your desire to refill quickly. For a vegetarian, the fibre is a godsend as it is challenging to find food with high fibre content. Chickpeas have also been linked to a reduced level of bad cholesterol and blood pressure. The protein content is high for the vegetarian but equally for the nonvegetarian looking to substitute meat with plant sources. The minerals are great for building healthy bones. Finally, chickpeas contain something called choline which aids in sleep and muscle movement.

A note of caution. If you are not habituated to eating chickpeas, you may want to introduce it slowly. Chickpeas contain something called galactans which can cause irritation in the stomach. Also, because of the high potassium content people who have elevated potassium levels or those on beta blockers (prescribed for people with cardiac ailments) should be careful about consuming chickpeas. High potassium can pose a grave risk to your kidneys. Ah, now if only I could cycle down to Oren’s for a taste of their hummus.