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Are Chickpeas Ok on The Candida Diet?

Posted 2/16/2021

Written by Dr. Brittany Buysschaert, PhD


Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.), also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes from the Fabaceae family. They are a kind of pulse, with seedpods containing 2-3 peas. There are two main types of chickpeas: Desi or black chickpeas and Kabuli or white chickpeas. White chickpeas are most commonly found in the West; they are larger, lighter in color, and sweeter. Black chickpeas are less sweet, smaller, and darker; they can be somewhat green or speckled in coloration. Due to lower levels of the anti-nutritional factors trypsin and chymotrypsin, chickpeas are more digestible than other beans and peas. Chickpeas need to be cooked to consume, not only to soften the bean but also to inactivate heat labile anti-nutritional factors. Cooking also makes the proteins in chickpeas more digestible. Liquid derived from cooking chickpeas, called aquafaba, can be used as a vegan egg replacement. Chickpea leaves are consumed as a green vegetable in some countries.

Chickpeas are regularly consumed in many part of the Middle East, India, and the Mediterranean. They are the main ingredient in foods such as falafel, hummus, and chana masala. Chickpeas have been domesticated for at least ten thousand years and originated in the Middle East. India is the leading producer of chickpeas, growing 65% of the world’s total with 14 million metric tons. The leading exporter of chickpeas is Australia, exporting 17% of the world’s chickpeas with approximately 400,000 metric tons. Pathogens in chickpeas can cause major crops losses. The most common pathogens of chickpeas are fungi, with Fusarium oxysporum being the most notable disease causing fungus. Fusarium oxysporum causes chickpea crop losses of approximately 10% each year (1). Research is ongoing to create cold resistant chickpeas which can be grown in climates with less fungal issues.


Uncooked-Dried-Chickpeas-on-Table

Nutrient Profile of Chickpeas

One ½ cup serving of chickpeas (200 grams) contains 130 calories. Chickpeas are an excellent source of Vitamin B6 and copper and are a good source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Chickpeas are a significant source of fiber and protein.


Carbohydrates

One 1/2 cup serving of chickpeas contains 23 grams of carbohydrates, including 4 grams of sugar. Chickpeas are a low glycemic food with a glycemic index of 29.


Fibers

One serving of chickpeas contains 7 grams of fiber. Chickpeas contain approximately 3/4 insoluble fiber and 1/4 soluble fiber (2). Insoluble fiber can be helpful in preventing constipation and promotes regular bowel movements. Soluble fiber also aids in healthy bowel movements, can help lower cholesterol, and helps diabetics maintain blood glucose levels.


Protein

Chickpeas contain 7 grams of protein per serving. For essential amino acids, chickpeas are limiting in the amino acid methionine (3). In a vegetarian diet, chickpeas can be eaten with grains to ensure intake of all nine essential amino acids.


Fats

Chickpeas contain 3 grams of fat per serving. The fat content in chickpeas is approximately 66% polyunsaturated fatty acids, 19% monounsaturated fatty acids, and 15% saturated fatty acids (3). Consuming foods high in unsaturated fatty acids can improve blood cholesterol levels, which leads to lower incidence of heart disease.


Vitamins & Minerals

Chickpeas are an excellent source of Vitamin B6 (40% of the FDA recommended daily value) and copper (25% of the FDA recommended daily value). Copper can help protect cells from oxidative stress. Chickpeas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, containing 10% of the FDA recommended daily value for each of these minerals. Both iron and Vitamin B6 may help reduce feelings of fatigue. Magnesium contributes to electrolyte balance. Phosphorus helps maintain healthy teeth and bones.


Antioxidants in Chickpeas

Chickpeas contain several phenolic compounds, including hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavanols, and isoflavanoids (4). Amongst these phenolic compounds, the ones which largely contribute to the antioxidant capacity of chickpeas are the hydroxybenzoic acids and isoflavanoids. The most important isoflavanoid found in chickpeas is biochanin A (4). Biochanin A has cancer preventative and and anti-inflammatory effects (5), although the concentration is likely not high enough in chickpeas to give any effect from consumption. Chickpeas contain the hydroxybenzoic acids vanillic, gallic, and p-hydroxybenzoic acid (4), which all contribute to the minor antioxidant activity of chickpeas.


Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpea consumption may lower the risk of several chronic diseases. The fiber in chickpeas can help lower total cholesterol as well as low density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol (3). The low glycemic index of chickpeas together with the presence of bioactive compounds such as phytosterols may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (6). Oil from the chickpea seed contains phytosterols which have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and cholesterol lowering effects (7). A phytosterol found in chickpeas called B-sitosterol can lower cholesterol by binding to it; this binding effect may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (8). B-sitosterol also has a blood pressure lowering effect (8). A fiber rich diet high in chickpeas was shown to decrease the cholesterol levels of obese individuals (9).

Chickpeas contain resistant starch, which can lower glucose availability in the small intestine. Lower glucose availability is associated with decreased incidence and severity of type 2 diabetes as well as increased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance (3). There is evidence that chickpea consumption may reduce the incidence of obesity due to their dietary fiber content and low glycemic index. This combination may help individuals get full faster and feel full longer than high glycemic index foods. Consuming foods with lower glycemic indices can also reduce insulin levels and lead to greater weight loss compared to foods with higher glycemic indices (10). Chickpea consumption is related to decreased fat tissue mass in obese individuals, which can lead to a reduction in obesity related disorders (3).

Chickpeas have been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine. Traditional uses include treating liver related issues, throat ailments, and blood disorders (3). They have also been used by the Uygur people to treat diabetes and high blood pressure for thousands of years (11). Significant amounts of butyrate is produced in the body when individuals consume two serving of chickpeas per day. Butyrate suppresses cell proliferation and may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (12). The dietary fiber in chickpeas can promote increased bowel movements and easier defecation (3).


Negative Health Effects of Chickpeas

The main negative health effect of chickpeas is the presence of anti-nutritional factors. Presence of anti-nutritional factors is the main reason chickpeas need to be cooked; they make chickpeas unpalatable prior to cooking due to their bitterness.

The main anti-nutritional factors in chickpeas are protease inhibitors and phytic acid. Protease inhibitors bind to trypsin and chymotrypsin, both of which aid in the digestion of protein. If the anti-nutritional factors in chickpeas were not inactivated, the body could not absorb as much protein from them or anything else consumed at the same time. Phytic acid can bind to minerals, making them unavailable for absorption in the body.


Chickpeas on The Candida Diet

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (152g) of canned chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed.

Calories: 210

Fat: 3.8g

Sodium: 322mg

Carbohydrates: 35g

Fiber: 9.6g

Sugars: 6g

Protein: 10.7g

Chickpeas have a glycemic index rating of 29 with a plus or minus index of 9, so on the high side they could have an index of 38 which is low. Using the 35g of carbs in a one cup serving we come up with a glycemic load of 13, which is above 10 and considered to be in the medium range.

However, cut that serving size to roughly 100 grams or 2/3 cup and 23g of carbohydrates, using 38 for the index the glycemic load is 9, which is acceptable.

Studies have also suggested that people with diabetes that consume chickpeas showed greater overall decreases in A1c, which suggests that chickpeas help stabilize blood sugar levels. If you stabilize blood sugar levels you will not feed Candida yeast, especially in infections that are not in the gut.

We would not get to carried away with the amount of chickpeas we ate at any one time. Add the carbs to the daily total keeping your total to 50 to 60 grams a day for improved immune function.


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Medical References

1. Datta J., Lal N. (2012). Application of molecular markers for genetic discrimination of Fusarium wilt pathogen races affecting chickpea and pigeonpea in major regions of India. Cell Molecular Biology, 58(1), 55-65. PMID: 23273192.
2. Khan, A. R., Alam, S., Ali, S., Bibi, S., & Khalil, I. A. (2007). Dietary fiber profile of food legumes. Sarhad Journal of Agriculture, 23(3), 763.
3. Jukanti, A. K., Gaur, P.M., Gowda, C. L., Chibbar, R. N. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. British Journal of Nutrition, 108 Suppl 1:S11-26. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512000797. PMID: 22916806.
4. Mekky, R. H., del Mar Contreras, M., El-Gindi, M. R., Abdel-Monem, A. R., Abdel-Sattar, E., & Segura-Carretero, A. (2015). Profiling of phenolic and other compounds from Egyptian cultivars of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and antioxidant activity: a comparative study. Royal Society of Chemistry Advances, 5(23), 17751-17767.
5. Yu, C., Zhang, P., Lou, L., & Wang, Y. (2019). Perspectives regarding the role of biochanin A in humans. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 10, 793.
6. Duranti, M. (2006). Grain legume proteins and nutraceutical properties. Fitoterapia, 77(2), 67-82.
7. Murty, C. M., Pittaway, J. K., & Ball, M. J. (2010). Chickpea supplementation in an Australian diet affects food choice, satiety and bowel health. Appetite, 54(2), 282-288.
8. Moreau, R. A., Whitaker, B. D., & Hicks, K. B. (2002). Phytosterols, phytostanols, and their conjugates in foods: structural diversity, quantitative analysis, and health-promoting uses. Progress in Lipid Research, 41(6), 457-500.
9. Crujeiras, A. B., Parra, D., Abete, I., & Martínez, J. A. (2007). A hypocaloric diet enriched in legumes specifically mitigates lipid peroxidation in obese subjects. Free Radical Research, 41(4), 498-506.
10. Slabber, M., Barnard, H. C., Kuyl, J. M., Dannhauser, A., & Schall, R. (1994). Effects of a low-insulin-response, energy-restricted diet on weight loss and plasma insulin concentrations in hyperinsulinemic obese females. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60(1), 48-53.
11. Li, Y., Jiang, B., Zhang, T., Mu, W., & Liu, J. (2008). Antioxidant and free radical-scavenging activities of chickpea protein hydrolysate (CPH). Food Chemistry, 106(2), 444-450.
12. Mathers, J. C. (2002). Pulses and carcinogenesis: potential for the prevention of colon, breast and other cancers. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S3), 273-279.



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