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Garbanzo Beans: The Cholesterol-Lowering, Energy-Raising, Good-for-More-Than-Just Hummus Bean That's Been Consumed for 7,000 Years

Garbanzo beans may not be a staple on your dinner plate (yet!), but they're the most widely consumed legume in the world. These round, nutty and buttery beans, also known as chickpeas, originated in the Middle East, and records of them exist up to 7,000 years ago.


The Latin name for garbanzo bean means "small ram," because the bean resembles a ram's head!

Today, over 40 million acres are planted with garbanzo beans, mostly in India, Pakistan, Turkey and Mexico (the United States grows about 30,000 acres of them each year). Interestingly, because garbanzo beans are high in malic acid, a natural pest deterrent, they typically don't require a lot of pesticides and therefore lend themselves well to organic farming.

Garbanzo Beans: More Than Just a Tasty Addition to Hummus

One of the most popular dishes that features garbanzo beans as its main ingredient is hummus, a rich garlicky dip that's a mainstay of Middle Eastern cuisine (but that's growing in popularity in the United States).

Garbanzo beans are also a well-known ingredient of falafel, a fried garbanzo bean patty that's eaten as a street food or fast food in much of the Middle East.

In the United States, you can find garbanzo beans dried, canned and, in limited supplies, green frozen varieties. They taste great in soups, stews, salads and side dishes, or even eaten right out of the can as a quick snack.

The Healthy Reasons to Eat Garbanzo Beans

Aside from their delicious nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture, there are many reasons to indulge in garbanzo beans: they're excellent for your health!


You can make a nutritious and tasty hummus dip simply by blending canned chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt in a blender (you can also add in some sesame tahini, if you like).

Garbanzo beans contain healthy nutrients including protein, manganese, folate, tryptophan, copper, phosphorus and iron, plus ...

1. They're Full of Heart-Protecting Fiber

Garbanzo beans contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which help to remove cholesterol-containing bile from your body, along with prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.

High-fiber foods like garbanzo beans are also known to help prevent heart disease.

2. They Help Lower Your Cholesterol

Garbanzo beans have been found to lower both your total cholesterol and your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

In fact, a study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adults who ate a diet supplemented with garbanzo beans for at least five weeks had a:

  • 3.9 percent drop in total cholesterol

  • 4.6 percent drop in LDL cholesterol

3. They Give You Energy and Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

The soluble fiber in garbanzo beans provides you with a source of steady, slow-burning energy. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is known to help stabilize your blood sugar, making garbanzo beans an ideal legume for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

Garbanzo beans also contain lots of protein -- which is essential for energy -- and manganese, which is a cofactor in a variety of enzymes that help with your energy production.

Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes

Want more healthy recipes? Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is the perfect cooking companion for anyone who wants to get more fresh, healthy and great-tasting foods into their diet -- but doesn't have a lot of time to do it.

Delicious Garbanzo Bean Recipes

Chickpea Potato Curry


  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • One 14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted or stewed tomatoes with chiles
  • 6 baby (new) Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 ounces), quartered
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. In a large pot, combine the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, butter, ginger, 1 teaspoon of salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Stir to mix and nestle the potatoes into the liquid.

  2. Set the pot, uncovered, over medium heat. Simmer vigorously for about 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add more salt to taste. Serve the curry in bowls over Jasmine rice.

Source: Simply Recipes

Moroccan Chickpea Soup


  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 (35-oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small celery rib (including leaves), finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (preferably organic) or chicken broth
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 oz dried capellini,broken into 1-inch pieces, or fine egg noodles (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges (for accompaniment)


  1. Prepare chickpeas: Soak chickpeas in water to cover by 2 inches 8 to 12 hours.

  2. Drain chickpeas and rinse well. Transfer to a large saucepan and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool chickpeas and drain, reserving cooking liquid. You should have about 2 1/2 cups liquid (if not, add more water).

  3. Coarsely purée tomatoes in a food processor.

  4. Cook onion and celery in butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add turmeric, pepper, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

  5. Stir in tomato purée, 1/3 cup cilantro, chickpeas with reserved liquid, vegetable broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

  6. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley, remaining 1/3 cup cilantro, and salt to taste.


Recommended Reading

The 6 Healthiest Staple Foods in Greek Cuisine

Sweet on Lemons: Seven Reasons to Give Healthy Lemons a Loving Squeeze


The World's Healthiest Foods

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