Is Chickpea Bread Healthy? The Nutrition Facts About This Grain-Free Bread
Chickpea bread is a tasty gluten-free bread loaded with nutrients found in chickpeas. Here's everything you need to know, plus the fun ways to eat it.
If you haven’t noticed, the interest in and market for chickpeas, also know as garbanzo beans, is booming. It reached a volume of 12.7 million tons in 2019 and is expected to grow over the next five years, according to a report by market research company IMARC.
“Chickpea bread is dense and almost has a cornbread-like consistency,” notes Sarah Koszyk, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of 25 Anti-Aging Smoothies for Revitalizing, Glowing Skin. “Many people are seeking it out because it is gluten-free and naturally higher in protein and fiber.”
In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that can lead to permanent damage in the small intestine if they don’t adhere to a gluten-free diet. People with non-celiac gluten-intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity don’t have the same reaction as those with celiac disease, but they can experience pain, bloating, diarrhea when they eat gluten.
No wonder chickpea bread is a much-welcomed alternative by the gluten-free community. Plus, it resembles the texture of wheat bread, which is chewy, without being too hard or dense. In wheat bread, there are proteins (glutenin and gliadin) that make gluten when mixed together with water. This is what forms the dough.
And for keto diet enthusiasts, chickpea bread is lower in carbohydrates than an average slice of bread. “That is appealing for many people, too,” says Koszyk.
As for flavor? Chickpea bread offers a nutty, savory taste, says Alana Fiorentino, RDN, a certified diabetes care and education specialist in New York City. “Chickpea bread is likely gaining in popularity due to other health trends gaining in popularity such as plant-based diets,” she adds.
Where does chickpea bread come from?
Chickpea bread stems from ancient traditions in Albania and Turkey, according to a report in European Food Research and Technology. In particular, chickpea bread was popular in an area called Korçë. Chickpea flour is also traditionally popular in India.
Nowadays, chickpea flour and chickpea bread are experiencing a rise in popularity in the United States.
Nutrients in chickpea bread
Here are the notable nutrients in a slice of chickpea bread, as well as the daily value (DV) of certain nutrients based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
- Calories: 124
- Fibre: 3 grams (11 percent DV)
- Protein: 6 grams (12 percent DV)
- Fats: 4 grams (5 percent DV)
- Carbohydrates: 13 grams (5 percent DV)
- For comparison, a slice of white bread has 76 calories, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fibre, and 14 grams carbs, per USDA FoodData Central.
When it comes to finding chickpea bread, you’re more likely to find recipes than actual bread when you Google the term. One popular recipe contains chickpea flour, water, salt, nutritional yeast, and olive oil.
The bread is also bursting with the nutrients you’ll find in chickpeas. These include manganese (which may help control blood sugar levels), folate (important for pregnant women), as well as copper and iron (both necessary for forming red blood cells).
You’ll also take in many other beneficial nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. “These nutrients are very important in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, build and generate cells, and make important hormones,” explains Koszyk.
More health benefits of chickpea bread
If you explore the gluten-free bread category, you’ll find that these breads can be made of so many different ingredients—from brown rice flour to cassava flour to almond flour. A big benefit of chickpea flour bread is that it’s made of pulses, which are the edible seeds of the legume family.
“Chickpea bread is made out of legumes, which are high in fiber and naturally contain plant-based protein,” says Koszyk. “Fiber and protein help to regulate appetite and increase satiety. In addition, chickpeas contain nearly all of the essential amino acids, which are ideal for optimal protein intake.”
Another benefit of the bread’s ample fiber content? “It can aid satiety and support blood glucose management because of the fiber content,” says Fiorentino. This is especially helpful for people with prediabetes and diabetes.
Concerns of eating chickpea bread
Are there any negatives to eating chickpea bread? Well, it depends.
“Some people are affected by the sugars, oligosaccharides, found within chickpeas, and may experience gas, bloating, or discomfort,” says Koszyk. “If people have a natural tendency to feel discomfort when eating legumes, they may feel side effects from this bread since it is derived from a legume flour.”
The good news? “Most people will be unaffected and should not have a problem,” she adds.
If you’re not used to eating higher amounts of fibre, you’ll likely want to slowly increase your overall intake so that your body can better adjust. You’ll also want to stay hydrated to help the fiber to more easily move through your body.
(Related: 6 Chickpea Nutrition Facts You Should Know)
Storage and food safety
Store chickpea bread in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days–or in the refrigerator for up to a week. After this, the bread should be tossed. But you can tightly wrap it and store it in the freezer for several months.
Fun ways to enjoy chickpea bread
The easiest and most practical way to add chickpea bread to your diet: Use it to make your favorite sandwich. It also makes great toast, which can be enjoyed as a base for hummus toast, avocado toast, or egg toast.
Koszyk enjoys eating chickpea bread as a pizza base. “I like topping it with pizza-like toppings such as marinated artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese,” she says.
How much of the bread can you have?
“Like most foods, portion control is important, and eating food in moderation is recommended,” says Koszyk. “Averaging two slices of chickpea bread daily is fine.”