Focus on: Chickpeas
Also known as garbanzo beans or Bengal gram, chickpeas were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and Middle East and are popular in dishes across the world.
Inexpensive and readily available, chickpeas provide a great alternative source of protein for those trying to cut down on meat. They have a range of health benefits and are so versatile there’s no excuse not to include them in your meals!
Like all pulses, chickpeas are low in salt and free from cholesterol. They are high in fibre, protein, folate and zinc, and contain valuable phytonutrients that act as antioxidants within the body.
Chickpeas make a particularly good contribution to daily iron intake, which is excellent news if you are using them as a substitute for meat. 100g can provide as much as 15-20% of the recommended intake. It is worth noting that the vegetarian form of iron (non-haem iron) is not as easily absorbed as iron from animal sources, but consuming plenty of vitamin C increases the absorption rate.
How to use them:
Cooked chickpeas can be added to stews and stir-fries or eaten cold in salads. They tend to retain their bite a little better than other beans which can go mushy if cooked for too long, and have a pleasant flavour when eaten cold.
Chickpea flour (gram flour) is an inexpensive wheat free alternative which is widely available in supermarkets and excellent for making pancakes. Combine with an egg and either rice or oat milk for a simple wheat and dairy free batter that can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes.
Chickpeas also make the base of hummus – for an instant healthy dip simply whizz them in a blender to the desired consistency adding olive oil, garlic and lemon juice plus any other herbs or spices you fancy.
- Good levels of protein compared to carbohydrate, which helps to control blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. As little as one-third of a cup of chickpeas per day has been shown to have benefits.
- High fibre levels are good for the digestive system, reduce constipation and have been linked to lower incidence of certain cancers.
- Low salt and no cholesterol is great news for cardiovascular health.
- High level of satiety (feeling of fullness) which is useful for weight loss - studies have shown that participants are less hungry and consume fewer processed foods and snacks when chickpeas are included in the diet.
A course in nutrition is an excellent way to learn how to analyse the nutritional advantages of different foods, and will show you how to compare nutritional information to make informed decisions about what to put on your plate.
See a range of introductory and more advanced nutrition training courses on offer here.