Chickpeas: What Are The Disadvantages Of Their Consumption?
Chickpeas are a particularly popular pulse in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. All over the world, people eat it more and more because it is an excellent source of vegetable protein.
It is ideal for those looking to reduce their consumption of animal protein.
But like all foods, chickpeas can also have side effects for some people. Should we be concerned about the potential dangers associated with their consumption?
Chickpeas, Lectins and Saponins
The main concern that some people may have about chickpeas is their content of lectins and saponins, two substances considered toxic:
Lectins are proteins found in many foods, especially of plant origin, such as pulses, cereals and certain fruits. They are able to bind to the membranes of the cells of the small intestine, which can disrupt their proper functioning. It can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea in some people.
Saponins are chemical compounds found in the skin of pulses that can have toxic effects on cells in the body. Saponins are also known for their ability to form foam, which can make pulses difficult for some people to digest. Studies have shown that saponins can cause gastrointestinal problems and hormonal disruptions in laboratory animals, but their impact on humans is not yet well understood.
Should We Worry?
No. Although chickpeas do contain lectins and saponins, they are in very low amounts, as in most pulses. Significantly since the benefits and advantages of pulses far outweigh these disadvantages!! As long as you don’t consume them excessively, there is no reason to be overly concerned.
Tip: You can eliminate the toxicity of saponins and lectins by soaking your chickpeas and other pulses before cooking. It is advisable to let them rest overnight in water (about 10 hours).
Also, the more you cook them, the more you will degrade the lectins and saponins. You can cook your chickpeas for 1 hour.
Chickpeas and Oligosaccharides
Chickpeas also contain oligosaccharides, including raffinose and stachyose, a type of complex sugar that can cause digestive issues in some people.
In fact, the human organism cannot digest the oligosaccharides, and they are therefore fermented by the bacteria present in the large intestine, which can cause symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain.
People with gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease may be more likely to experience adverse symptoms when consuming chickpeas.
Should We Worry?
No. Oligosaccharides do not cause serious health problems nor present any danger to most of the population. You have to know that they can be harmful in people with the most fragile intestines, but again there are methods to reduce the levels of oligosaccharides:
Soak the chickpeas the night before
Use a high-pressure cooking method,
Add spices like cumin, which would have an effect on reducing oligosaccharides.
Summary: Who Is Most Likely to Have Adverse Effects?
As you will have understood, most of us will digest pulses such as chickpeas without any problem. In any case, it is preferable to let them soak in water overnight and to cook them well.
Here is a summary of who may potentially be affected by the side effects of eating chickpeas:
You have gastrointestinal disorders.
People with gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and pain in abdominal muscles when eating pulses.
This is due to the presence of certain complex sugars, called oligosaccharides, in pulses, which cannot be digested by the human body and may cause undesirable symptoms in some people.
You are allergic to pulses.
Some people may be allergic to pulses, which can cause severe allergic reactions such as skin rashes, difficulty in breathing, face swelling and throat, and anaphylactic shock.
You have digestion problems.
Some people may experience digestive issues from eating pulses due to their fiber and oligosaccharide content. It can lead to the symptoms of bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
What to do in case of symptoms?
Suppose you experience unpleasant intestinal problems every time you eat chickpeas (diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.). In that case, we recommend temporarily removing pulses from your diet while rebuilding your good intestinal flora. You can then reintroduce them gradually, respecting the advice given in this article to reduce the toxicity of undesirable substances.
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