The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for the health-supporting benefits it provides. One of the main staples in a healthy Mediterranean diet is the chickpea, a nutrient-dense legume that is extremely versatile and can be added to any meal.
Chickpeas are full of fiber and protein, making them ideal for vegetarian and vegan diets. Whether you eat meat or not, the benefits of chickpeas are endless, and their unique nutty taste is perfect for all dishes, including the Mediterranean salad below.
FOR THE SALAD
2 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large bowl, toss together the chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, olives, and feta, then season with salt and pepper.
2. In a jar fitted with a lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and red pepper flakes.
3. Shake until emulsified, then season with salt and pepper. Dress salad with vinaigrette and serve alone or as a side to your favorite meal.
The majority of the chickpea is protein, but there are a host of other essential nutrients and health benefits packed in every bean to help support heart and whole-body health.
Packed With Protein
Many studies have found that chickpeas are a better source of protein and essential amino acids than other legumes. This is why they are ideal for those who miss out on the protein from meat. Except for methionine, chickpeas contain most of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Being full of fiber makes chickpeas a great way to promote digestive health. The fiber is mostly soluble, which means it can blend with water to form a gel that passes more slowly through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber is beneficial for your gut bacteria and serves as nutrition for them, promoting a healthy gut microbiome balance.
Heart Health Support
Chickpeas contain magnesium and potassium, both of which support healthy heartbeat and blood pressure. By aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, chickpeas can support heart health.
Chickpeas work to support healthy blood sugar levels in a number of ways. Their low glycemic index helps maintain steady blood sugar levels after consumption, and the high protein and fiber content slows the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Healthy Weight Management
Protein and fiber work together to slow digestion, which helps promote a feeling fullness, which can help you avoid unhealthy snacking. The low calorie content also helps support healthy weight management. Roasted chickpeas make the perfect snack for whenever those cravings rear their head.
Legumes in general have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps support a healthy pH balance in the body. Diets high in alkalizing foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help support heart health and longevity through maintenance of a healthy pH.
Apart from the nutritional benefits, chickpeas are cheap and versatile. You can get them in canned or dried varieties, and they are available at almost every store. They are easy to add to a meal, can be cooked a variety of ways, and can even be made into a hummus dip for your vegetables or to add to your favorite sandwich.
Outside of versatility and great taste, there are numerous reasons to include chickpeas in your diet. Add them to a salad, soup, stew, or as a side to any meal.
Everyone can agree that chickpeas are wonderful legumes and add the perfect Mediterranean touch to any diet and essential nutrients to any health routine.