Kala Chana, or black chickpeas, are a variety of darker colors with a nuttier taste. These protein-rich legumes have long been used in Indian cuisine in various dishes and snacks. Besides being incredibly versatile in cooking, Kala Chana is packed with nutrients and provides many health benefits.
- Nutrition Facts of Kala Chana
- 1. Very High in Plant Protein
- 2. High in Dietary Fiber
- 3. Rich Source of Iron
- 4. Promotes Heart Health
- 5. Helps Control Diabetes
- 6. Promotes Gut Health
- 7. Boosts Weight Loss
- 8. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
- 9. Detoxifies the Body
- 11. Boosts Energy Levels
- 12. May Prevent Cancer
- 13. Improves Brain Function
- 14. Alleviates PMS and Menopause Symptoms
- 15. May Reduce Birth Defects
- Serving: 100 g
- The Bottom Line
What is Kala Chana?
Kala chana, also known as Bengal gram, black chickpeas, or desi chickpeas, is a popular legume native to the Indian subcontinent. They are smaller, darker, and have a more wrinkled surface compared to light-colored garbanzo beans.
Kala chana is scientifically known as Cicer arietinum in the family Fabaceae. They are grown in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and parts of Maharashtra.
The dried seeds split in half with the skin on are known as chana dal or kala chana. When split and skinless, they are called kala chana dal. Grounded kala chana is also known as black chickpea or Bengal gram flour.
Kala chana has a distinct nutty flavor and firm texture. It is incredibly versatile – used in curries, added to salads, or made into cakes like pakoras.
Nutrition Facts of Kala Chana
Here is the nutritional value per 100g of kala chana:
· Calories: 353
· Carbs: 61.5g
· Protein: 19g
· Fiber: 12.5g
· Fat: 6g
· Water: 11g
Kala chana is packed with essential vitamins and minerals:
· Calcium: 55mg
· Iron: 7mg
· Magnesium: 138mg
· Phosphorus: 367mg
· Potassium: 770mg
· Sodium: 24mg
· Zinc: 3.5mg
· Folate: 457mcg
It also provides decent amounts of vitamins A, K, C, and B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
15 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kala Chana
Here are 15 excellent health benefits of kala chana, backed by scientific research:
1. Very High in Plant Protein
Kala chana is an excellent source of plant-based protein. A 100g serving provides around 19g of protein, meeting 37% of our daily protein needs. The protein in kala chana is high quality as it contains all essential amino acids.
For vegetarians and vegans, kala chana is a perfect protein-rich addition. Its high protein keeps you fuller for longer, curbs your appetite, and helps build lean muscle mass.
2. High in Dietary Fiber
Kala chana is packed with insoluble fiber, providing 12.5g per 100g serving. This accounts for 42% of our recommended daily fiber intake.
The high fiber content enhances digestion by adding bulk to stool and relieving constipation. It also slows digestion, leading to better blood sugar control.
3. Rich Source of Iron
A 100g of kala chana meets 63% of our daily iron requirement, with 7mg of iron. Its substantial iron content prevents anemia by raising hemoglobin levels in the blood. This improves oxygen supply to cells and boosts energy levels.
4. Promotes Heart Health
The magnesium, potassium, and fiber in kala chana support heart health in many ways. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, while potassium lowers blood pressure. Soluble fiber reduces LDL or harmful cholesterol levels in the blood.
These nutrients together decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis. The folate in kala chana also keeps homocysteine levels in check – elevated levels of this compound damage blood vessels.
5. Helps Control Diabetes
The high fiber and protein in kala chana has a low glycemic impact, meaning it does not spike blood sugars rapidly after a meal. This steady release of glucose makes it suitable for people with diabetes.
Magnesium and zinc also improve insulin response in the body. Vitamin K builds strong bones, which is essential for people with diabetes at risk of osteoporosis. All these properties make kala chana beneficial for managing diabetes.
6. Promotes Gut Health
The insoluble fiber in kala chana acts as a prebiotic. It feeds the healthy gut bacteria in the intestines, allowing them to multiply. It improves the gut microbiome diversity and intestinal health.
Kala chana’s fiber also adds bulk to stool, relieving constipation by promoting regular bowel movements. It keeps the digestive system healthy.
7. Boosts Weight Loss
Being high in protein and fiber while low in fat, kala chana is perfect for weight management. The protein induces satiety, reducing appetite and obsessive thoughts about food.
Fiber does not provide calories but improves digestion and metabolic rate. This creates a calorie deficit for fat burn. So include kala chana in your weight loss diet.
8. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
The protein and fiber in kala chana have a low glycemic index. They ensure a slow, steady release of glucose into the bloodstream instead of sudden spikes in blood sugar.
It prevents hyperglycemia. Potassium and magnesium also improve insulin response for better glycemic control. It makes kala chana suitable for people with diabetes.
9. Detoxifies the Body
Kala chana has mild diuretic properties owing to its potassium content. This stimulates urination to flush out waste products and toxins from the kidneys through urine.
Additionally, the fiber binds to toxins in the intestines, which are eliminated through bowel movements. This cleansing effect detoxifies the entire body.
10. Strengthens Bones
Kala chana is an excellent plant-based source of calcium, providing 55mg per 100g. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth by increasing bone mineral density.
It prevents disorders like osteoporosis, fractures, and arthritis. Magnesium and potassium work synergistically with calcium to improve calcium absorption and bone matrix formation.
11. Boosts Energy Levels
The combination of protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins in kala chana provides an energy boost. Iron improves blood circulation and oxygen supply to cells. B vitamins convert food into usable energy.
The steady release of glucose also prevents energy crashes. So, kala chana is the perfect snack for an instant energy kick.
12. May Prevent Cancer
Kala chana contains many compounds like fiber, selenium, vitamin K, and polyphenols that have anti-cancer benefits. Fiber binds to toxins and excess hormones, removing them from the body. Selenium and vitamin K inhibit tumor cell growth. The antioxidants fight oxidative damage from free radicals that trigger cancer growth. These protective effects may help prevent various types of cancers.
13. Improves Brain Function
Kala chana contains essential brain nutrients like B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and folate. Folate lowers homocysteine, which impairs cognition if elevated.
Zinc boosts memory, learning, and logical thinking. Magnesium and potassium increases blood flow to the brain. All these nutrients together ensure optimal brain function.
14. Alleviates PMS and Menopause Symptoms
The iron, magnesium, and B vitamins in kala chana alleviate menstrual problems caused by nutritional deficiencies in women. Iron prevents mood swings, fatigue, and headaches during periods. Magnesium relieves muscular cramps and spasms. For menopausal women, magnesium prevents hot flashes, muscle cramps, and insomnia.
15. May Reduce Birth Defects
Kala chana is incredibly high in folate or vitamin B9, providing 457mcg per 100g serving – four times our daily folate needs! Folate supplementation in pregnant women before conception and in early pregnancy lowers the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida in the baby by up to 70%.
Serving: 100 g
How to Cook Kala Chana
Here are simple ways to cook dry kala chana:
· Soak overnight in water to soften, then pressure cook until tender. It takes 3-4 whistles.
· Soak for 8-12 hours and boil in fresh water until soft. Takes about 1 hour. Add salt at the end.
· In soups, curries, or dals, cook soaked chana and other ingredients. It will become tender during cooking.
· Roast dry kala chana in oil, spices, and salt for 10-15 mins until crisp. Enjoy as a snack.
· Make flour from roasted or raw chana. Use to make flatbreads, pancakes, etc.
· Sprout kala chana and add to salads, sandwiches, etc. Very nutritious.
When buying kala chana, ensure there is no moisture or insect damage. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Cooked kala chana can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Kala Chana Benefits for Skin and Hair
In addition to health benefits, black chickpeas also improve skin and hair in incredible ways:
1. Cleanses Skin
Face masks made with kala chana flour deeply cleanse the skin by removing impurities, dead cells, and excess oils. This removes tan and brightens the complexion.
2. Fights Acne
Applying a paste of kala chana flour and rosewater prevents pimples and acne. It absorbs excess oils and tightens pores without over-drying the skin. Its antimicrobial action kills acne-causing bacteria.
3. Reduces Pigmentation
Kala chana is a natural bleach that lightens dark spots, Pigmentation, sun tan, and discoloration to reveal glowing skin. Use a powdered kala chana and yogurt face pack.
4. Prevents Aging
Antioxidants like vitamin C and polyphenols in kala chana fight free radicals that accelerate aging. It prevents wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.
5. Promotes Hair Growth
Protein is vital for hair growth as hair is made of keratin, a fibrous structural protein. Kala chana, being high in protein, helps build strong, thick hair.
6. Conditions Hair
Apply a hair mask of kala chana flour, yogurt, lemon juice, and honey. It nourishes hair, reduces split ends, smooths frizz, and leaves hair soft and shiny.
7. Fights Dandruff
Mix kala chana flour with fenugreek powder and water into a paste. Apply to the scalp and wash out after 20 minutes. Its antifungal action reduces dandruff and itchiness.
8. Prevents Greying
Coconut oil cooked in kala chana improves hair pigmentation. Massage this oil into the scalp to cover grey strands.
So try including nutrient-dense kala chana in your diet and using it on your skin and hair. You will notice excellent benefits in terms of health, skin quality, and hair growth.
Is Kala Chana Good For Everyone?
Kala chana is generally very safe when consumed by most healthy individuals in average food amounts. However, here are some precautions:
· Those with gout or kidney stones may need to avoid kala chana due to its purine, oxalate, and uric acid content.
· Extremely high fiber intake from kala chana may cause temporary gas, bloating, and diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Increase slowly.
· Allergic reactions may occur in those allergic to chickpeas. Discontinue use if any swelling, itching, or rashes develop.
When consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, kala chana is nutritious and safe for most people. But consult your doctor before adding it to your diet if you have any medical conditions.
The Bottom Line
Kala chana is a nutritional powerhouse packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It provides many scientifically proven benefits ranging from regulating blood sugar levels and promoting heart health to improving digestion, boosting energy, and aiding in weight loss.
Incorporating kala chana into your diet regularly will help prevent nutritional deficiencies, reduce disease risk, and support overall good health. Its beneficial effects on skin and hair are a bonus. So try this superfood black chickpea for a healthier, happier you.