Chickpeas are a pulse vegetable, native to the Mediterranean and the Indian subcontinent. Once of the oldest known cultivated vegetables, traces of chickpeas have been found in Neolithic pottery in the Middle East.
Chickpeas are rich in protein, fibre, folic acid, iron and phosphorus, as well as amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan and isoleucine. They are also a good source of zinc, magnesium, thiamin and vitamin B6.
Because chickpeas are a complex carbohydrate, they do not cause blood sugar spikes and can therefore contribute to good blood sugar control as part of a healthy diet. Chickpeas promote a feeling of fullness when consumed, and in this way may help with a weight loss programme.
Being high in fibre, chickpeas help to promote a healthy digestion, and can also help to reduce levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, thereby having cardio-protective properties. The selenium found in chickpeas may have liver protective qualities too.
Chickpeas are widely used in Mediterranean and Indian food. They are available raw, dried or ground into flour, and can be used to make curries, or consumed in salads and other dishes. Ground chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus.