Celiacs, or people who suffer from celiac disease, need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For celiacs, eating gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine that damages the villi, which are tiny hair-like projections that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food. This damage makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, and weight loss. The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
Are chickpeas gluten-free?
Yes, chickpeas are naturally gluten-free. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes. They do not contain any gluten. This makes chickpeas a safe and nutritious food choice for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
What precautions should celiacs take with chickpeas?
While chickpeas themselves are gluten-free, celiacs need to watch out for cross-contamination when buying and preparing chickpeas. Here are some precautions celiacs should take:
- Purchase chickpeas labeled “gluten-free” and check for a gluten-free certification seal from organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). This helps verify the chickpeas are gluten-free.
- Check ingredients on canned chickpeas. Some canned varieties may contain malt vinegar or other gluten ingredients. Opt for plain canned chickpeas with no questionable ingredients.
- Rinse canned chickpeas before using to remove any residual starches or gluten. Rinsing also helps improve the texture.
- Avoid bulk bins when buying dried chickpeas. The bins could be cross-contaminated with gluten grains.
- Thoroughly clean cooking equipment, prep areas, and hands when handling chickpeas to prevent cross-contact with gluten.
- Watch out for seasonings, sauces, and condiments added to chickpea dishes. Always verify ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free.
Are all forms of chickpeas safe?
In their natural unprocessed form, chickpeas are gluten-free. However, certain chickpea-based products and flours may contain gluten or be cross-contaminated:
- Chickpea flour: Some brands add wheat flour to improve texture. Check labels and look for gluten-free certified chickpea flour.
- Chickpea pasta: Many pastas blend chickpea flour with wheat flour. Choose verified gluten-free chickpea pasta.
- Chickpea snacks: Flavored chickpea snacks could contain glutenous seasonings or cross-contact. Stick to plain roasted chickpeas.
- Falafel: Some restaurants fry falafel in the same oil as gluten-containing foods. Ask about dedicated fryers.
With these precautions, plain chickpeas including canned chickpeas, dried chickpeas, and 100% chickpea flour can be safely eaten on a gluten-free diet.
What nutrients do chickpeas offer?
Chickpeas are highly nutritious, making them an excellent addition to a gluten-free diet. Here are some of the key nutrients found in 1 cup of cooked chickpeas (202g):
Chickpeas provide a hefty dose of plant-based protein and fiber. The fiber helps promote digestive health. Chickpeas also contain iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium.
Do chickpeas cause digestive issues for some celiacs?
Most celiacs tolerate chickpeas well. But for some, chickpeas may irritate an already sensitive digestive system. Possible causes include:
- FODMAPs: Chickpeas contain FODMAPs, types of carbs that may ferment in the gut and cause gas or bloating.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Up to 30% of celiacs have IBS. Legumes like chickpeas may trigger symptoms.
- Fructans: Chickpeas contain fructans, a type of FODMAP some celiacs react to.
- IBD: Some celiacs have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). High fiber chickpeas could aggravate inflammation.
Celiacs who experience digestive problems after eating chickpeas should try eliminating them for 2-4 weeks. Then, reintroduce chickpeas in small amounts and monitor symptoms. Work with a dietitian to personalize your diet plan.
How can celiacs incorporate chickpeas into a gluten-free diet?
When prepared properly, chickpeas are an excellent gluten-free addition. Here are some healthy ways for celiacs to enjoy chickpeas:
- Toss drained and rinsed canned chickpeas into salads, soups, and gluten-free grain bowls.
- Puree chickpeas with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice for homemade hummus.
- Roast spiced chickpeas for a crunchy snack or salad topper.
- Blend chickpea flour into gluten-free baked goods like muffins, breads, and pancakes.
- Cook chickpeas from scratch. Soak overnight, then simmer until tender.
- Add chickpeas to veggie-packed curries, stews, and chilis.
- Swap chickpeas in place of meat in tacos, chili, sandwiches, etc.
When buying packaged chickpea products, be sure to verify they are certified gluten-free and made in a gluten-free facility.
Sample meal plan with chickpeas
Here is a sample one-day meal plan featuring chickpeas:
- Gluten-free oats made with almond milk, topped with chickpeas, avocado, hemp seeds
- Coffee or tea
- Chickpea salad sandwich on gluten-free bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber
- Carrots and hummus
- Sliced fruit
- Chickpea coconut curry with rice and vegetables
- Gluten-free flatbread
- Green salad
- Sliced apples with peanut or almond butter
- Gluten-free chickpea crackers
- Roasted seaweed snacks
- Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
Are there any risks with eating chickpeas?
Chickpeas are generally considered safe, even in large amounts. But here are some potential drawbacks to consider:
- Digestive problems: As mentioned, chickpeas contain FODMAPs that provoke gas or bloating in some people.
- Kidney stones: Chickpeas contain oxalates that may contribute to kidney stones in those prone to them.
- Purines: Chickpeas have purines that can increase uric acid. Those with gout should limit intake.
- Lectins: Raw chickpeas have lectins that may cause stomach upset. Always cook chickpeas.
People taking blood thinners or other medications should check with a healthcare provider before increasing chickpea intake, as interactions are possible.
The bottom line
Chickpeas are a gluten-free food that provide celiacs with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Enjoy chickpeas roasted, blended into dips and spreads, added to soups and stews, or made into chickpea flour. Look for certified gluten-free products and follow precautions to avoid cross-contact. For some celiacs, chickpeas may exacerbate digestive issues or other conditions. Work with a healthcare team to personalize your diet plan. When prepared properly and well-tolerated, chickpeas are a nutritious addition to a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease.