We all know besan is a pulse-based flour made from dried and ground chickpeas or chana. It is commonly used in the preparation of savoury snacks and homemade sweets. In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional and health benefits of besan, with emphasis on its value to those following a vegan diet and those with gluten intolerance. Read on to learn more about this versatile and healthy flour.
The Chickpea Benefit - Besan Nutrition
Dry chickpeas have a protein content of about 20% and carbohydrate content of about 62%. With a fibre content of 12%, they are an excellent source of roughage. They provide about 380 Kcal of energy per 100 grams. Chickpeas are rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and other minerals. They are also a good source of vitamins C, E, A and B group vitamins. Further, they contain bioactive compounds like Biochanin A, lycopene and saponins, and they bring about the production of butyrate upon consumption. These compounds have been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers. (1).
Besan for the Vegan Diet
The average protein requirement for adults is between 56 to 80 grams per day. While those on a non-vegetarian diet get most of their protein from meat, people on vegetarian and vegan diets get their protein from plant sources like pulses. Due to its excellent protein content and overall nutritional profile, chickpeas are an invaluable part of the vegan and vegetarian diets.
Besan for the Gluten-Free Diet
Rotis and other flatbreads form an important part of the Indian diet. However, these are usually made from wheat. Wheat, barley and rye contain a protein called gluten which can cause digestive distress in people suffering from celiac disease, and symptoms like bloating, gas, headaches, nausea and joint pain in people with gluten sensitivity. Some people are also allergic to wheat and may experience symptoms like swelling of the throat, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing upon its consumption.
In such cases, besan makes an ideal supplement for wheat flour and can be used to prepare rotis, dosas or chillas. It is not only gluten-free, but also offers the added benefit of a higher protein and fibre content.
The Versatility and Value of Besan
Following a gluten-free diet can sometimes feel like you’re missing out on a lot of tempting foods. However, with the right technique, besan can be used to prepare everything from rotis and bread to biscuits and yes, even cakes! One study even showed that the addition of besan to traditional flour-based cookies, enhances the nutritive value of the snack.(2) The unique profile of nutrition of besan has yet another benefit to offer - it has a lower carbohydrate content and oil absorption capacity than wheat flour.(3) Gluten restriction or not, this makes besan a worthy atta alternative for weight-watchers too.
Chickpea flour is full of vitamins and minerals, with 1 cup (92 grams) providing almost 101% of the RDI for folate which makes it a great option for pregnant women.
Chickpeas have a GI of 6, and snacks made from chickpea flour are thought to have a GI of 28–35. They’re low-GI foods that would have a more gradual effect on blood sugar than white flour.
It is high in fibre, which may help improve blood lipid levels. It also contains a type of fibre called ‘resistant starch’, which has been linked to several health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.
It is an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans, as they contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, the structural components of protein that must come from your diet.
Enrich your meals with the right ingredients. Tata Sampann Besan is purity assured, made of 100% chana dal and comes in two varieties - normal and fine. Happy eating!
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