Humble chickpea claims own shelf space as next superfood, says research

Chickpeas, locally called garbansos, may be something Filipinos take for granted, owing to their abundance in the market and grocery, but market research indicates they are among the fast-rising stars in the global health food market.

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are gaining popularity for several reasons: They are inexpensive, versatile, delicious, and loaded with nutrition. They may be eaten on their own, or used as an ingredient in salads, made into a bean dish, thrown into soup, or ground up to make hummus.

Chickpeas are part of the legume family, and the United States Department of Agriculture is actually recommending the consumption of three cups of legumes a week for good health.

Chickpeas are rich in protein, high in fiber, and rich in antioxidants, and their consumption has been linked to decreased cardiovascular risks, better digestive mobility, and increased satiety which helps in caloric control.

Additionally, chickpeas are valued by those with food allergies. Gluten-free and nut-free, they are being used to help those with gluten and egg allergies, says verywellfit.com. They can take the place of flour in many products, while the “nutty” flavor of the chickpea can also serve as a substitute for those with nut allergies. It is important to note that those allergic to legumes cannot consume these products.

According to The Atlantic in a recent article, chickpeas are said to trigger fewer reactions than wheat or soy while furnishing a similar stable of flours, extracts, and nonanimal protein sources.

For vegetarians, vegans, or omnivores who want to eat less meat, the bean is versatile in terms of taking on many flavors, becoming like the chicken of the bean world.

Today, supermarkets are displaying more and more products that have been made from chickpeas. According to an article on wellandgood.com, there has been a definite uptick in the number of chickpea-based products lining store shelves, from both new brands and established ones. Products on display include chickpea pasta and rice, chickpea puffs, dessert hummus, chocolate-covered chickpeas, chickpea milk, chickpea cookie dough, and chickpea ice cream. The article says that in 2020, chickpea comfort foods will even be entering the restaurant space.

Chickpeas have caught the attention of consumers because these are something familiar to them, which makes it easier to try the ingredient in new products and forms.
Moreover, chickpeas fit in with the current wellness trend for plant-based foods, pulses and beans, products created from by-products (like aquafaba), and healthy snacking. Aquafaba, or the liquid that is found within a can of chickpeas, has been found to be a suitable substitute in recipes that call for egg whites, such as baked goods.

Consumption of chickpeas also aligns with the “back to basics” movement as health-conscious shoppers look for natural products devoid of preservatives or chemicals and containing only a few ingredients, which should have recognizable names.

Market research indicates that more chickpea-based products will become widely available on shelves in the future as this legume is being touted as the “next new superfood” of the healthy food world.

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