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Chickpeas are a staple food in the Indian cuisine. Gram flour or chickpea flour, commonly known as besan in India, is made by grinding chickpeas which are either raw or roasted. But, this versatile ingredient also has its own share of health benefits which many aren't aware of.
Is Gram Flour Good For You?
Gram flour is high in oleic acid, linoleic acid, unsaturated fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. The flour is free of gluten and rich in fibre and protein  . Gram flour is an excellent source of folate, an important mineral that plays a major role in preventing spinal cord defects during pregnancy.
Nutritional Value Of Gram Flour
100 g of gram flour contains 10.28 g water, 387 kcal energy and it also contains:
- 22.39 g protein
- 6.69 g fat
- 57.82 g carbohydrate
- 10.8 g fibre
- 10.85 g sugar
- 45 mg calcium
- 4.86 mg iron
- 166 mg magnesium
- 318 mg phosphorus
- 846 mg potassium
- 64 mg sodium
- 2.81 mg zinc
- 0.486 mg thiamine
- 0.106 mg riboflavin
- 1.762 mg niacin
- 0.492 mg vitamin B6
- 437 mcg folate
- 41 IU vitamin A
- 0.83 mg vitamin E
- 9.1 mcg vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Gram Flour
1. Controls diabetes
Gram flour has a low glycemic index which makes it a great food for diabetics. Low glycemic index foods get digested slowly and don't cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. It also improves your insulin sensitivity  . Use gram flour while making chappatis or parathas.
2. Aids in weight loss
The presence of fibre and protein in chickpea flour helps keep your tummy full for a long time. High-protein foods keep you feeling full for longer, and your body has to burn more calories to digest these foods, thus playing an important role in weight management  .
Include besan-based foods like dhokla and chila in your diet. You can even have chickpea salad, chickpea soup or chickpea chaat.
3. Promotes heart health
Gram flour is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, and dietary fibre which are beneficial for heart health. According to a study, chickpea flour lowers total cholesterol by 3.9% and bad cholesterol by 4.6%  .
It also reduces high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart failure, heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest.
4. Prevents colon cancer
Besan has the potent ability to prevent colon cancer because it contains butyrate, which works by inhibiting the proliferation of cancerous cells in your colon  .
Gram flour also contains saponins and lignans that can help prevent colon cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
5. Strengthens bones
The presence of calcium and phosphorous in gram flour work together and help in the formation of bones  . So, include besan as much as possible in your diet to strengthen your bones.
6. Treats anaemia
Low haemoglobin levels in the body lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Besan is a good source of iron, which will help treat and prevent you from becoming anaemic  .
7. Regulates mood
Gram flour is a good source of vitamin B6, which aids in the synthesis of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, a hormone responsible for uplifting your mood, thereby contributing to well-being and happiness.
8. Fights fatigue
To boost your body with energy and vigour, incorporate gram flour into your diet. It is a good source of the vitamin thiamine that helps in assisting your body in converting food into energy. This helps in preventing fatigue.
9. Boosts healthy digestion
If you are having irregular bowel movements or constipation, consumption of gram flour on a regular basis is considered useful. The fibre present in it helps in softening the stool, and proper passing of the stool. It also feeds the healthy gut bacteria, which keeps your gut healthy.
10. Keeps your skin and hair healthy
Gram flour packs are useful for dry, flaky skin, acne scars, oily skin and blemish-free skin. Also using gram flour on hair stimulates hair growth, removes dandruff, nourishes dry hair, and improves hair lustre.
Gram Flour Vs Wheat Flour
Gram flour is higher in nutrient value than refined wheat flour. It contains nearly twice the folate as an equal amount of fortified wheat flour. Gram flour is good for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergy.
How To Make Gram Flour At Home
- Grind the chickpeas in a food processor till it becomes a fine powder.
- Sift the flour to separate any large chickpea pieces that didn't grind.
- Store the flour in an airtight container in room temperature for up to 6-8 weeks.
- If you want roasted chickpea flour, just place the dried chickpeas on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius. You can then grind the roasted chickpeas in the grinder and the same method follows.
Ways To Add Gram Flour Into Your Diet
- Use gram flour instead of wheat flour for baking cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.
- Use gram flour as a natural thickener in soups and curries.
- Use gram flour to make crepes and pancakes.
Besan Flour Recipes
-  Jukanti, A. K., Gaur, P. M., Gowda, C. L. L., & Chibbar, R. N. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review.British Journal of Nutrition,108(S1), S11-S26.
-  Johnson, S. K., Thomas, S. J., & Hall, R. S. (2005). Palatability and glucose, insulin and satiety responses of chickpea flour and extruded chickpea flour bread eaten as part of a breakfast.European journal of clinical nutrition,59(2), 169.
-  Li, J., Armstrong, C. L., & Campbell, W. W. (2016). Effects of Dietary Protein Source and Quantity during Weight Loss on Appetite, Energy Expenditure, and Cardio-Metabolic Responses.Nutrients,8(2), 63.
-  Pittaway, J. K., Ahuja, K. D. K., Cehun, M., Chronopoulos, A., Robertson, I. K., Nestel, P. J., & Ball, M. J. (2006). Dietary supplementation with chickpeas for at least 5 weeks results in small but significant reductions in serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterols in adult women and men.Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism,50(6), 512-518.
-  Shapiro, R., & Heaney, R. P. (2003). Co-dependence of calcium and phosphorus for growth and bone development under conditions of varying deficiency.Bone,32(5), 532-540.