Chickpeas are among the best plant-based dietary sources of iron. A serving contains 4.74 mg of iron, or 26% of the recommended daily intake.
Health benefits of iron
Iron is vital for health. Above all, iron is a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Also, iron is essential for muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, though! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
How much iron do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women.
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time to meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement.
You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
How much iron is in chickpeas?
Chickpeas are among the best plant-based dietary sources of iron. They contain 2.9 mg of iron per 100. A serving provides 4.74 mg of iron. This dose is 26% of the recommended daily intake.
Are other chickpeas-based foods high in iron?
Hummus and falafel are two popular Middle East foods, based on chickpeas. They have a high iron content as well.
Hummus contains 1.56 mg of iron per 100g, or 0.23 mg per tbsp. Falafel contains 2.26 mg of iron per 100g, or 0.38 mg per patty.
Furthermore, chickpea flour (besan) is high in iron. It contains 4.9 mg per 100g.
Chickpea pasta is another great plant-based dietary source of iron. It contains about 5 mg of iron per 100g (3.5oz).
Hence, all chickpea-based foods can help us meet our daily needs of iron.
You can find a wide variety of chickpea flours and other chickpea foods on Amazon.
Although chickpeas are rich in iron, we absorb only a small percentage of it. Iron bioavailability of chickpea is relatively low.
It’s estimated that we absorb between 5% and 12% of iron from plants. In contrast, we absorb about 18% of iron from animal-based foods.
Chickpeas, as all beans and legumes, are very high in polyphenols and other antioxidants. However, these compounds inhibit iron absorption. Their removal can increase iron absorption up to 2.6-fold.
Soaking and rinsing of beans reduce the concentrations of these compounds. They leach into the water.
Furthermore, we could increase the absorption of iron, eating plenty of foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption!
Common foods high in iron as well as vitamin C are kale and spinach.
Animal-based foods, like meat, poultry, and seafood, enhance iron absorption as well.
In contrast, better avoid consuming whole-grains and beans with other foods high in iron. Phytates and polyphenols in these foods significantly inhibit iron absorption.
Moreover, high amounts of calcium might reduce the bioavailability of iron. Hence, you better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with foods containing iron.
In any case, healthy people who follow a healthy, well-balanced diet, probably get more than enough iron. After all, there are many foods high in iron.
Other foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, seeds, nuts (e.g. almonds), beans, potatoes, chocolate, and many fruits and vegetables.
Actually, you could drink certain fruit juices to boost your daily iron intake.
Should I eat chickpeas regularly?
We should regularly consume chickpeas, as they have a superior nutritional value.
For instance, chickpeas are pretty high in fiber and protein. High fiber intake may lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Also, it may reduce high blood pressure, enhance immune functions, and improve insulin sensitivity.
In addition, chickpea consumption may decrease the levels of triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol, while increasing the levels of HDL-cholesterol, which is beneficial for the heart. Also, they can be beneficial for gut microbiota.
Furthermore, chickpeas are good sources of important vitamins and antioxidants, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, folate and beta-carotene.
In fact, chickpeas may have beneficial effects on certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive diseases and some cancers.
Also, despite their high calorie content, chickpeas are good for weight loss.