Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

chickpeasApril’s food of the month is: chickpeas!

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have a strong presence in South Asian cuisine. Seen in common recipes such as chhole, chanay ka pulao and a whole host of dishes containing chickpea flour, South Asian diets have a built in ingredient to reduce mental health symptoms.

Most commonly, chickpeas are known for being high in fiber. They help keep you full longer and help manage blood sugar levels. However, these legumes have even higher levels of manganese, which is a mineral shown to lower pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS). Specifically, it lessens the irritability and depressive symptoms that are common with PMS. Also related to reducing PMS symptoms is magnesium, another mineral found in high quantities in chickpeas. It helps reduce water retention and bloating which is commonly experienced by women prior to a menstrual cycle.

Chickpeas are also high in Vitamin B6, a very healthy vitamin that has many positive effects on mood and mental health. For one, it helps the body create a neurotransmitter called dopamine which is associated with less irritability and less depressive symptoms. Vitamin B6 is also credited for reducing stress levels and improving memory problems. If you find yourself having trouble remembering words or names, foods such as chickpeas that are high in vitamin B6 should help.

Folic acid, found in large quantities in chickpeas, helps modulate mood problems and anxiety. Specifically, it helps produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is necessary for modulating depressive symptoms and lowering anxiety. Folic acid is most effective when combined with Vitamin B6, which is present in high quantities in chickpeas.

Also present in chickpeas is zinc, a mineral that acts as a power mineral to maintain positive mental health. Specifically, it protects against the development of depressive symptoms. In fact, people living with depression are often found to also have a zinc deficiency, an indication that depression and zinc are closely connected. In addition, zinc helps to regulate mood swings, reduce fatigue, improve confusion, increase appetite, improve motivation and reduce the “brain fog” that often results in feeling as if your mind is blank.

Chickpeas are abundantly found in South Asian cooking, as well as in many other cuisines around the world. Packed with minerals and vitamins that have strong positive and protective mental health properties, try to include chickpeas in your diet to live a healthier lifestyle.

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