2016 is the International Year of Pulses. Here at AgForce we have decided that it should be the year of the chickpea with a record harvest expected across Australia this year. Here are 10 facts about the humble chickpea which you may not know.
1. Chickpeas were most likely first cultivated in the Middle East 7500 BC, quickly spreading worldwide.
2. India is the world’s number one leader in chickpea production, with Australia coming in second place.
3. Known by many names, including garbanzo beans in the US, bengal grams, egyptian peas, ceci beans and kabuli chana.
4. Chickpeas are an agricultural wonder, producing a valuable crop while at the same time providing a natural organic method of breaking the disease cycle in wheat and barley crops.
5. Restoring depleted soils, chickpeas are powerful nitrogen fixing legumes. Their deep root system plays an important role in stabilising soils and preventing erosion, they use little or no fertiliser while enhancing the fertility of the soil, and, they are a dry land agricultural crop, using no agricultural water. There’s even a natural insecticide in its leaves, which keeps the bugs away.
6. Legumes are included in the Australian Government recommended eating plan for a balanced diet in both vegetable and meat categories making legumes an important part of a healthy balanced diet.
7. Chickpeas are a great source of both soluble and dietary fibre. They help to maintain blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of developing heart disease and also aid in managing diabetes. Their dietary fibre and low glycemic index (GI) may also assist with weight loss - making you feel fuller for longer.
8. Chickpeas contain a huge number of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin c, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
9. Chickpeas are an incredibly versatile ingredient to cook with. You can eat them canned, dried or roasted, hot or cold and they are inexpensive.
10. Ground chickpeas have been used as a coffee substitute since the 18th century and are still commonly used as a caffeine-free alternative today. Widely available, the taste is said to be delicious.
Available in a variety of different types and colours, Chickpeas can be black, green, red or brown. For some great recipes and other tips visit the International Year of Pulses website at http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/