Coloured Chickpeas: The Next Functional Food

Posted by Josette Dunn on 24th February 2010

The latest in a long line of functional or ‘super’ foods, coloured chickpeas have recently been found to be more beneficial than the more well known cream and beige chickpeas.

Coloured chickpeas have significantly higher antioxidant qualities than the regular cream and beige color varieties, according to a new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago.

Known to be high protein, chickpeas are the second most important pulses in the world with crops grown in more than 37 countries. Legumes also offer health-benefiting antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which positions them as a functional food.

Researchers from the Volcani Center in Israel looked at 17 lines of chickpeas ranging from black, red, brown, green, rubiginous, gray, yellow, and beige. The chickpeas were separated into seed parts and ground into a fine power for analysis. Results indicated that colored chickpeas contained up to 13 times more polyphenols , up to 11 times more flavonoids and up to 31 times more antioxidant activity than beige chickpeas.

“Darkness, yellowness, and high color intensity chickpeas contained more antioxidants,” according to lead researcher Dr. Shmuel Galili. “Given the functional food attributes of chickpeas, they might contribute significantly to the management of degenerative diseases.”

This news is likely to see increased demand from consumers for coloured chickpeas, which at the moment are relatively unknown.  Australians have been quick to adopt new functional foods, such as quinoa and goji berries, with the trend towards healthy eating and living showing no signs of slowing.