Experts are obsessed with this low-calorie, cancer fighting superfood

In the advent of a looming banner year for plant-based diets—detailed, well-established plans,  like the flexitarian and The Blue Zone diet have been receiving a lot of coverage. Beneath the hubbub however, a panoply of vegan snacks have slowly begun to introduce themselves to the conversation. Most recently, chickpeas, often referred to as garbanzo  beans, enjoyed a couple of write-ups elevating them as a certified superfood.

“Chickpeas are versatile, nutritionally dense, allergen-friendly, and inexpensive as an ingredient,” Landrieu says. “They’re also familiar to consumers, so even if the product isn’t something they’ve seen before, it’s easier to convince them to give it a try,” Kelly Landrieu, the global coordinator of local brands for Whole Foods told Well+Good this week. ”

Any worthy healthy snack presents very little disadvantages when consumed in excess. Anyone can go through a bag of potato chips in one sitting, but much fewer will feel good about themselves as a result.

Food to the rescue

There are roughly 1, 217 calories in an 8 oz bag of potato chips. Not only are they loaded with salt and trans fats, but most brands also contain a carcinogenic chemical called acrylamide. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the agent is typically released as a result of burning or deep frying foods at high temperatures. Those that regularly imbibe the chemical surge their risk of developing many forms of cancer.

Conversely, there are only 46 calories in a teaspoon of chickpeas, which means if you ate the approximate equivalent of a bag of chickpeas (200 grams) you would only be enduring 726 calories in addition to a plethora of important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Because chickpeas boast a high protein value, they are a perfect transition snack for aspiring flexitarians that want to limit their meat intake. Together fiber and protein slow down the digestive process, which means if you accompany your breakfast, lunch or dinner with foods high in both you’ll feel full for much longer than you would without them.

“Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, which makes them a filling food that may help lower appetite and reduce calorie intake at meals,” Brianna Elliott, RD reports.

The saponins found in chickpeas offer protective defenses against the formation of cancerous cells, while their levels of potassium and magnesium drastically reduce blood cholesterol, which in turn reduces one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. These minerals present a similar risk reduction for both type 1  and type 2 diabetes.

So many of the daily recommended value of nutrients, fiber and vitamins are accomplished via a cup of chickpeas. In a recent study that spanned 12 weeks, participants who consumed at least 728 grams of chickpeas a week decreased their total cholesterol levels by a median of nearly 16 mg/dL. Additionally, the iron and calcium they contain prompt bone health and curbs the likelihood of developing osteoporosis later in life.

“Including chickpeas in your diet regularly will support your health and may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. They’re affordable and easy to find at most grocery stores. You can include them in various dishes, and they make an excellent meat alternative in vegetarian and vegan meals,” Elliot explained.