Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans are legumes that are well appreciated for their health benefits by many people around the world. However, many women do wonder if they are actually good for pregnancy. Of course it’s normal to ask such questions, because as a pregnant woman, you should only consume foods that will add value to both you and your unborn child, health wise.
Chickpea or Cicer arietinum are known for their high protein and fiber content. I recently wrote a piece on the amount of fiber in chickpeas, you can have a look here. Their rich fiber content account for many of its health benefits including relieving constipation and lowering cholesterol levels.
Other benefits of chickpeas include improving heart health, aiding digestion, and promoting weight loss. Yep! You heard me right. Just because these legumes provide significant calorie content doesn’t mean they are fattening. They can instead help you achieve your weight loss goals. You can read an article on that here: Are chickpeas fattening or good for weight loss?
Is it safe to eat chickpeas during pregnancy?
Of course it’s a wise idea to always inquire about the safety of foods you eat as a pregnant woman. Remember that it’s not only about you now, because you are carrying someone else. And you need to look after that being too (even when in the womb).
Chickpeas are safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as they are cooked correctly, and eaten in adequate amounts. As at the time of writing this report, no serious side effects on pregnant women has been reported. However, it is always a wise idea to consult your healthcare professional before adding anything to your diet as a pregnant woman.
Chickpea benefits for pregnancy
Now that you know these legumes are safe for you to eat, you must be probably looking forward to knowing how these wonderful seeds can boost the health and well-being of both you and your unborn child. Below are some of the ways they can benefit both of you:
Neural tube defects
Now, this is for your baby. Chickpeas are very rich in folate or folic acid, a vitamin that has been proven to prevent neural tube defects. Just a 100 gram serving of cooked, mature chickpea seeds provides more than 40% of the daily recommended intake for folate. This is quite a rich amount, and only a few foods can beat that.
Folates have been proven to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly (1). These neural tube defects usually occur in the first month of pregnancy, and in most cases, even without knowing you are pregnant. Since these disorders happen so fast, most healthcare specialist recommend having enough folates in your body prior to conception.
Preventing anemia is vital for your health and the baby you are carrying. During pregnancy, some women experience a mild anemia. This is somewhat normal, as your body has to produce even more blood to cater for the blood needs of the fetus you are carrying. Besides, if you are not getting adequate amounts of dietary iron, your body might not meet up with the blood demand. And when your body fails to do so, a mild anemia sets in.
Iron is involved in the production of red blood cells, which account for about 40-45% of the blood. Interestingly, chickpeas are rich in iron, with a 100 gram serving of mature boiled seeds providing up to 22% of the daily requirement for this mineral.
This means by adding some chickpeas in your diet as a pregnant woman, you can increase the amounts of iron you take it, and consequently your blood production. Enough blood in your body can prevent all those signs of fatigue and dizziness you might have been battling with.
Most pregnant women do experience a decline in their energy level at some point in time during pregnancy. In fact, this decline in energy level is probably the most common frustration of pregnant women. Thankfully, there are many ways to boost your energy levels and keep going, and moving, until you deliver that bouncing child.
While taking a nap, increasing iron intake, and exercising can increase your energy levels, eating healthy is always the best. Foods like chickpea can be very effective in increasing your energy, because they contain significant amounts of iron, proteins, and calories.
Chickpeas contain choline, a macronutrient that’s important for brain development, nerve function, and healthy metabolism. It play’s an important role in helping your baby develop a healthy brain and spinal cord.
Chickpeas have a reasonable content of choline, at about 43 mg per 100 grams of cooked seeds (2). Although that amount is no way near the recommended daily intake of 450 mg per day for pregnant women, it still makes up a significant percentage. Other foods that can boost your choline intake include beef liver, salmon, and eggs.
As a pregnant woman, your need for choline increases, because your baby makes use of your body’s supply.
Chickpeas contain many nutrients that are vital for the healthy growth of your baby. It contains rich amounts of manganese (provides more than 60% of the daily value in 1-cup serving). Manganese is involved in the formation of bone and cartilage, in the protection of cells, and in the metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates. It is very important in the growth of your baby.
Pregnant women need about 2 mg of manganese per day, and 1 cup of garbanzo beans (164 g) provides up to 1.69 mg. That’s nearly 70% of the daily value for this mineral.
As a pregnant mom, you stand to gain many other health benefits by the intake of chickpeas. You can check them out here.