There are broadly two types of chickpeas, the "blond" variety (Kabuli) which makes up the vast majority of the chickpeas sold in most of the Middle East and North America, and darker ones (Desi, also called black chickpeas) found in India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and a few other countries. They vary in color, but are rarely actually black. The desi type are higher in phytonutrients. Also, if you are at a farmer's market at just the right time, you can sometimes find fresh chickpeas, which are green.
Chickpea flour (besan) is often used in Indian curries as a thickener. It has about half the carbohydrate of wheat flour.
A special note about hummus: Hummus, made from pureed chickpeas, varies widely in its calories, carbs, and glycemic index and load. This is probably primarily due to the amount of sesame tahini (sesame seed paste) in the recipe. More tahini in the recipe will produce hummus that is lower in carbs and glycemic index/load, and higher in calories. Ordinarily you could expect a pureed bean to have a higher glycemic index than the whole bean, but in the case of hummus the reverse is true, most likely due to the fat content. One study of hummus was as low as 6! Others have been in the low 20's.
Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas (not canned): 16 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein, and 134 calories
- ½ cup canned chickpeas: 22 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 5 grams fiber and 143 calories
- ½ cup raw chickpeas (cooks up to at least 2 servings): 43 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 17 grams fiber and 364 calories
- ½ cup besan (chickpea flour): 22 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, and 178 calories
Glycemic Index of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)Two studies for soaked boiled chickpeas reported average glycemic indexes of 10 and 36. Two studies of canned chickpeas reported an average glycemic index of 40.
Glycemic Load of Chickpeas
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas(homemade): 9
- ½ cup canned chickpeas: 11
Health Benefits of ChickpeasChickpeas are an excellent source of fiber (about a third of which is soluble), manganese, and folate. It is also a very good source of magnesium, iron, and copper. and thiamin, and a good source of potassium and iron.
Chickpeas, like other legumes, are perhaps the best food source of slowly-digested carbohydrate and resistant starch. Essentially, this means that they contain starch which is slowly converted to glucose, and starch which is not digested in the small intestine at all. At least one study has shown that replacing more rapidly-digested carbohydrates with legumes improved glycemic control in diabetics. Consuming foods high in resistant starch may also improve colon health, including promoting healthy bowel flora. Resistant starch may even improve insulin sensitivity and absorption of minerals such as calcium.
More Information About Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) at Calorie Count.
Serving Suggestion: Try chickpeas in my Low-Carb Four-Bean Salad
More Carb Profiles:
Aguilera Y, Esteban RM, Benítez V et al. Starch, functional properties, and microstructural characteristics in chickpea and lentil as affected by thermal processing. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 57:22 (2009) 10682-8.
Atkinson, F, Foster-Powell, K, and Brand-Miller, J. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008." Diabetes Care. 31:12 (2008).
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21.