Eating Chickpeas (Chana) During Pregnancy
Who doesn’t like chickpeas? It is a dish we all enjoy. Right from eating it as part of a meal or as a snack, this food is versatile and loved by most people. But when you enter your pregnancy, you might have to be careful about what you eat, chickpeas being one of them. Being conscious about your diet from the first to the third trimester is essential during pregnancy, but that does not mean chickpeas are a complete no-no. Moderation is key when it comes to eating chickpeas during pregnancy, in the first trimester and afterwards. There are more benefits than drawbacks that make it a good food for any pregnant woman. Read on to explore both the benefits and the side effects of eating chickpeas during pregnancy.
Are Chickpeas Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Chickpeas are regarded as one of the safest food items to consume during pregnancy. The only thing one needs to remember is to cook them properly, i.e., until they are soft and always eat them in moderation. Chickpeas have a high nutritious value and provide proteins, minerals, and folic acid which are essential during pregnancy.
Nutritional Value of Chickpeas
100 grams of chickpeas contains the following nutrients.
|Amount per 100 grams.
Benefits of Eating Chickpeas During Pregnancy
Chickpeas can benefit both the foetus and the mother in numerous ways. Read on to find how.
1. Helps Avert Neural Tube Defects
Studies suggest that chickpeas are rich in folate or folic acid. The presence of this acid in the body has proved to be a boon as it helps in averting neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Usually witnessed in the first month of your pregnancy, these neural defects may not take much time to influence foetal health. So, the next time you wonder if besan is safe during pregnancy, remember the high levels of folate that are actively working to keep the foetus healthy.
2. Prevention of Anaemia
Anaemia is a condition in humans where either the red blood count diminishes or the haemoglobin value drops down, resulting in an inadequate supply of oxygen to the body tissue. Anaemia can be a long-term condition or a temporary one. To generate and maintain a healthy level of red blood cells, pregnant women must consume iron-rich food and here’s some good news! The sumptuous chickpeas contain nearly 22% of the iron in every 100-grams of serving, which would consequently boost red blood cells in the system, and also provide some relief from exhaustion and nausea during pregnancy.
3. Great Source of Energy
Pregnancy is a challenging journey and takes a toll on your body. You will feel extremely tired and exhausted as the pregnancy progresses, and therefore, you will need extra energy to carry the excess weight in your womb. Chickpeas could come to your rescue during this phase. One can’t ignore the benefits of eating black chickpeas (black chana) either during pregnancy. Black chickpeas provide the energy needed for bearing the physical challenges you will face during pregnancy.
4. Brain Development
Chickpeas comprise of choline, a micronutrient that aids in brain development and building healthy nerves. The chickpeas that you munch on during pregnancy will help develop the foetal brain and spinal cord. A 100-gram serving of chickpeas contains 43 grams of choline. What could be better than that?
5. Overall Foetal Health
Chickpeas contain calcium, phosphate, manganese, zinc and vitamin K that together aid in developing bone strength and formation of cartilage. Chickpeas also protect the cells and assist in the metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates. Women need about 2 mg of manganese per day, and they can get about 1.69 mg of manganese from one cup (approximately 164 grams) of chickpeas.
6. Overall Health During Pregnancy and Weight Control
This power food helps maintain blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol levels, controls blood sugar levels, and reduces chronic inflammation. The high levels of dietary fibre in it also aid digestion by preventing constipation and irritable bowel. Chickpeas are also considered a great option for protein and highly recommended to those who are glucose intolerant. During pregnancy, your weight could become an issue; however, chickpeas can help you control your weight and keep obesity levels under check.
7. Manages Gestational Diabetes
Chickpeas are a rich source of fibre, which causes a much lesser insulin response than other foods. This means, having a healthy amount of chickpeas during pregnancy will help prevent or manage gestational diabetes, which occurs due to high blood sugar levels.
Along with the benefits, you should also know the side effects chickpeas could have during pregnancy. Let’s take a look at that as well.
Side Effects of Eating Chana During Pregnancy
Although chickpeas offer various benefits, they can also lead to certain side effects if you consume them in large quantities:
- Chickpeas can lead to allergic reactions if you have a history of sensitivity towards them.
- Chickpeas can also lead to acidity in some women, but worry not, soaking the legumes overnight can help you get rid of the acidic content.
- Chickpeas contain purine which causes the excessive generation of uric acid leading to gout.
- Chickpeas may cause kidney stones too.
- If you are suffering from diarrhoea, chickpeas should be avoided as dietary fibre in it may worsen the situation.
- Consuming high-fibre food such as chickpeas can help reduce constipation, but eating under-cooked chickpeas can cause digestion problems, which you would want to avoid when pregnant.
- Overeating any food is harmful. Same goes for chickpeas. Eating chickpeas regularly can lead to stomach ache and discomfort due to bloating or gas accumulation.
- In some cases, women who are allergic to soybeans could also become allergic to chickpeas and have reactions like itching, nausea, or even an upset stomach. In that case, eating chickpeas must be avoided altogether.
These side effects are not seen in all pregnant women. Some have no reactions at all and can enjoy chickpeas without a worry. Nonetheless, you must cook them appropriately to make it easy to digest. You can then make several delicious dishes with these cooked chickpeas. Here are some tips to make some scrumptious chickpea recipes.
How to Cook Chickpeas?
Here are some useful tips for cooking chickpeas:
- Usually, to prepare any chickpea dish, soak them overnight in water. Soaking helps reduce the cooking time and also gets rid of some of the acidic content in chickpeas.
- After they are boiled appropriately, sauté them with some spices of your choice, and your dish is ready.
- If you are opting for canned chickpeas, you just need to open the can and start enjoying the meal. However, it is always recommended that you cook the peas and avoid canned food as it not a healthy option to have during pregnancy.
- Another way of eating chickpeas, be it Kabuli chana or the black chana, is to add salt, pepper, tomato, and coriander leaves after boiling them properly. This dish makes for a great snack, especially for pregnant women.
- You can also roast Kabuli chana with a bit of olive oil and spices in the oven to make yet another delicious and crunchy snack to munch on.
- Adding boiled chickpeas to soups is another interesting way of consuming them. This dish is filling and appropriate to satisfy your hunger pangs. Plus, they would give a different flavour to the soups too.
- Chickpeas can be mixed in some yoghurt to make yet another tasty snack. You can also add cucumber or raisins for making a flavourful treat.
1. Can You Eat Raw Chickpeas During Pregnancy?
It is not recommended to eat raw chickpeas, as they are more difficult to digest, and can cause issues such as gas or kidney stones. You can soak chickpeas overnight and boil or roast them before eating.
2. Does Chana Cause Gas While Pregnant?
Yes, chickpeas can cause gas when eaten in excessive amounts. Restrict the amount of chana you eat during pregnancy, and also ensure it is cooked properly to avoid any side-effects.
3. Can You Eat Chickpeas Daily During Pregnancy?
Yes, chickpeas can be eaten daily during pregnancy, provided they are cooked properly. Make sure you soak them overnight and properly boil or roast them. This will help you gain the right nutrients while avoiding potential side-effects.
4. Is Roasted Chana Good to Eat During Pregnancy?
Roasted chana is safe to eat during pregnancy. However, it is important that they are roasted fully and eaten in normal amounts to prevent side-effects like gas.
These were some benefits and side effects associated with chickpeas. We recommend you look at both the sides of the coin, and include chickpeas into your diet accordingly. Maintaining your and the foetus’ health is all that matters. Thus, when eating chickpeas, cook them well and prepare one of the delicious ways given above to enjoy them thoroughly, but always remember to eat them in moderation.
1. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt; U.S. Department of Agriculture; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173757/nutrients; January 2019
2. Wallace. T, Murray.R, Zelman. K; The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus; Nutrients; https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c995/0c3c66af60d39b678cb6f936b682ab2a6b23.pdf; November 2016
3. What Are Chickpeas and Are They Healthy?; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/health-benefits-of-chickpeas/; January 2022
4. Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844; May 2023
5. Have a healthy diet in pregnancy; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/have-a-healthy-diet/; April 2023