Chickpea flour, also known as gram, besan, or garbanzo bean flour, has been a staple in Indian cooking for centuries.
Chickpeas are versatile legumes with a mild, nutty taste, and chickpea flour is typically made from a variety called Bengal grams.
This flour, which you can easily make at home, has recently grown in popularity across the world as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.
Here are 9 benefits of chickpea flour.
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Chickpea flour is loaded with important nutrients.
One cup (92 grams) of chickpea flour contains (
- Calories: 356
- Protein: 20 grams
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbs: 53 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Thiamine: 30% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Folate: 101% of the RDI
- Iron: 25% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 29% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 38% of the RDI
- Copper: 42% of the RDI
- Manganese: 74% of the RDI
In one observational study in more than 16,000 women, babies born to women who consumed flour fortified with additional folate and other vitamins had 68% fewer spinal cord defects than those born to participants who consumed plain flour (
The women who used fortified flour also had 26% higher blood folate levels than the control group (
Chickpea flour naturally contains nearly twice the folate as an equal amount of fortified wheat flour (
Plus, it’s an excellent source of several minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
Summary Chickpea flour is full of vitamins and minerals, with 1 cup (92 grams) providing 101% of the RDI for folate and over a quarter of your daily needs for several other nutrients.
Chickpeas contain beneficial antioxidants called polyphenols (
Plant polyphenols specifically have been shown to decrease free radicals in food and reverse some of the damage they can cause in your body (
In addition, chickpea flour is being studied for its ability to reduce the acrylamide content of processed foods.
It’s a potentially cancer-causing substance and has been linked to problems with reproduction, nerve and muscle function, as well as enzyme and hormone activity (
In one study comparing several types of flours, chickpea flour produced one of the lowest amounts of acrylamide when heated (
Researchers also found that using chickpea batter on potato chips decreased acrylamide formation, compared to potato chips that had been treated with antioxidants from oregano and cranberry (9).
Finally, another study observed that shortbread cookies made with a blend of wheat and chickpea flour had 86% less acrylamide than the same cookies made with only wheat flour (10).
Summary Chickpeas contain antioxidants and may help fight free radicals. Using chickpea flour in processed foods seems to reduce their content of harmful acrylamide.
Chickpea flour is a great alternative to wheat flour if you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake.
Compared to the same serving of refined wheat flour, 1 cup (92 grams) of chickpea flour has about 25% fewer calories. This means it’s less energy dense (
Energy density and portion size have been studied extensively for their role in weight management.
In a 12-week, randomized study in 44 overweight adults, participants who were instructed to eat more lower-calorie foods lost 4–8 pounds (1.8–3.6 kg) more than those given more complex dietary instructions (
Therefore, replacing wheat flour with chickpea flour may help you cut calories without necessarily changing your portion sizes.
Summary Chickpea flour has 25% fewer calories than white flour, making it less energy dense. Eating more lower-calorie foods may help you reduce calorie intake while eating the portion sizes you’re used to.
Researchers have theorized for decades that legumes, including chickpeas and lentils, decrease hunger.
A 2014 review of studies noted that including legumes in the diet increased feelings of fullness after a meal by 31%. (
One way chickpea flour may decrease hunger is by regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin. Lower ghrelin levels are thought to promote feelings of fullness.
In an observational study in 16 women, those who ate a pastry made of 70% white flour and 30% chickpea flour had lower levels of ghrelin than participants who ate a pastry made of 100% white flour (
However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of chickpea flour on appetite and hunger hormones.
Summary Chickpea flour may decrease hunger by regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin. Still, more research is needed to explore this effect.
Chickpea flour has about half the carbs of white flour and thus may affect blood sugar differently (
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how rapidly a food breaks down into sugars that can spike your blood sugar.
Glucose, the sugar your body prefers to use for energy, has a GI of 100, meaning it increases your blood sugar fastest. White flour has a GI of about 70 (
A similar study in 12 healthy women noted that whole-wheat bread made with 25–35% chickpea flour affected blood sugar significantly less than both white bread and 100% whole-wheat bread (
However, more and larger studies are needed to investigate the relationship between chickpea flour and blood sugar.
Summary Chickpea flour is a low-GI food that has a gradual effect on blood sugar. In some small studies, eating foods made with chickpea flour resulted in decreased blood sugar, compared to products made with wheat flour. Still, more research is needed.
Chickpea flour is packed with fiber, as chickpeas themselves are naturally high in this nutrient.
One cup (92 grams) of chickpea flour provides about 10 grams of fiber — triple the amount of fiber in white flour (
Fiber offers numerous health benefits, and chickpea fiber, in particular, has been associated with improved blood fat levels.
In a 12-week study in 45 adults, consuming four 10.5-ounce (300-gram) cans of chickpeas per week without making other dietary changes reduced total cholesterol levels by 15.8 mg/dl. The effect was most likely attributed to the fiber content of the chickpeas (
A similar study in 47 adults found that eating chickpeas for 5 weeks reduced total cholesterol by 3.9% and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 4.6%, compared to eating wheat (
Chickpeas also contain a type of fiber called resistant starch. In fact, in a study evaluating the resistant starch content of several foods, roasted chickpeas ranked in the top two alongside unripe bananas (
Research shows that chickpeas can be composed of up to 30% resistant starch depending on how they’re processed. One analysis found that chickpea flour made from precooked chickpeas contained 4.4% resistant starch (
Resistant starch remains undigested until it reaches your large intestine, where it serves as a food source for your healthy gut bacteria. It has been linked to a reduced risk of several conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer (
Summary Chickpea flour is high in fiber, which may help improve blood fat levels. It also contains a type of fiber called resistant starch, which has been linked to several health benefits.
Chickpea flour is higher in protein than other flours, including white and whole-wheat flour.
A 1-cup (92-gram) serving of chickpea flour provides 20 grams of protein, compared to 13 grams in white flour and 16 grams in whole-wheat flour (
Your body needs protein to build muscle and recover from injury and illness. It also plays an important role in weight management.
High-protein foods keep you fuller longer, and your body has to burn more calories to digest these foods (
In addition, due to its role in muscle growth, eating adequate protein will help you preserve lean muscle mass, which is especially important if you’re losing weight (
Furthermore, chickpeas are an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans, as they contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, the structural components of protein that must come from your diet (
The remaining, methionine, can be found in large quantities in other plant foods like baby lima beans (
Summary Chickpea flour is higher in protein than wheat flour, which may help decrease hunger and increase the number of calories you burn. Chickpeas are an ideal protein source for vegetarians, as they provide nearly all of the essential amino acids.
Chickpea flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour.
It has a better nutrient profile than refined flour, as it provides more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein but fewer calories and carbs.
Because it doesn’t contain wheat, it’s also appropriate for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergy. Still, if you’re worried about cross-contamination, look for certified gluten-free varieties.
Furthermore, it behaves similarly to refined flour in fried and baked foods.
It’s a dense flour that somewhat mimics the action of gluten in wheat flour when cooked by adding structure and chewiness (34).
In an attempt to formulate a new gluten-free bread, researchers found that a combination of three parts chickpea flour and one part potato or cassava starch was ideal. Still, using only chickpea flour produced an acceptable product as well (
Plus, replacing only 30% of wheat flour in a cookie recipe with chickpea flour boosted the nutrient and protein contents of the cookies while maintaining a pleasant taste and appearance (
Summary Chickpea flour is a great substitute for wheat flour, as it acts similarly during cooking. It’s a great alternative for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergy.
You can easily make chickpea flour at home. All you need are dried chickpeas, a cookie sheet, food processor, and sifter.
Here’s how to make your own chickpea flour:
- If you want roasted chickpea flour, place the dried chickpeas on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350°F (175°C) or until golden brown. This step is optional.
- Grind the chickpeas in a food processor until a fine powder forms.
- Sift the flour to separate any large chickpea pieces that did not grind adequately. You can discard these pieces or run them through the food processor again.
For maximum shelf life, store your chickpea flour at room temperature in an airtight container. This way it will keep for 6–8 weeks.
Chickpea flour can be used in several ways:
- as a replacement for wheat flour in baking
- combined with wheat flour to improve the healthfulness of your baked goods
- as a natural thickener in soups and curries
- to make traditional Indian dishes, such as pakora (vegetable fritters) or laddu (small dessert pastries)
- to make pancakes or crepes
- as a light and airy breading for fried foods
Summary It’s easy to make chickpea flour at home using only dried chickpeas and a few common kitchen tools. Chickpea flour can be used in many different ways.
Chickpea flour is full of healthy nutrients. It’s a great alternative to refined wheat flour, as it’s lower in carbs and calories yet richer in protein and fiber.
Research suggests that it may have antioxidant potential and could decrease levels of the harmful compound acrylamide in processed foods.
It has culinary properties similar to wheat flour and is suitable for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergy.
Chickpea flour is a tasty, nutritious, and simple swap that will help improve the healthfulness of your diet.
You can find chickpea flour in stores and online, though it’s also incredibly easy to make at home.