Looking to lead a stronger, healthier life?
Sign up for our Wellness Wire newsletter for all sorts of nutrition, fitness, and wellness wisdom.

Now we’re in this together.
Thanks for subscribing and having us along on your health and wellness journey.

See all Healthline's newsletters »
Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

See all posts »

In Praise of the Lowly Chickpea

A recent encounter with a scrumptious hummus got me thinking about the versatility of the chickpea, a Mediterranean staple otherwise known as the garbanzo bean. A legume high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, yet very low in fat, chickpeas are fairly nondescript on their own, but combine beautifully with spices and olive oil.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern specialty that has moved from the exotic to the mainstream in record time.  A simple blended concoction of chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic, usually combined with a little tahini (sesame paste), hummus weighs in at about 30 calories per tablespoon. It is often used as a dip for bread or pita chips, but also makes a terrific heart friendly spread for a veggie sandwich, especially when substituted for mayonnaise.

Falafel, another Middle Eastern tradition that’s often hawked on the streets of New York and other American cities, is made from a paste of ground chickpeas mixed up with spices. It’s usually fried up and served on pita bread. When baked, rather than fried, falafel makes a perfect meal for vegans and for anyone trying to move away from a meat-based diet. Recipes for baked falafel abound online, including this easy version from allrecipes.com, and another from FatFreeVegan.com. Canned chickpeas are easy to find, making the prep work minimal. And at less than one dollar per can, chickpeas are kind to your wallet as well as your heart.

If foods like hummus and falafel are not to your taste, try tossing chickpeas into a salad. You’ll get a super boost of protein and fiber with few added calories. You might also enjoy this recipe for chickpea pilaf, or this simple one for chickpeas and spinach. Instead of going to the trouble of soaking dried chickpeas overnight, canned chickpeas will work quite well, and no one will ever know the difference.

  • 1

Tags: Diet and Heart Health

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Recommended for You


About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.