The High-Protein Snack That Can Help You Lose Weight (And Decrease Your Heart Disease Risk)

Losing weight can be a tough battle of cravings and hunger pangs. Rather than resort to low-fat snacks that can be high in sugar, high-protein snacks can help you feel full. Protein triggers specific hormones in your body that tell you that you're full while lowering the hormone that makes you feel like you need more food.

You don't need to turn to meat to get more protein into your diet. A cup of chickpeas provides more than 14 grams of protein to fill your belly, so you'll eat less. Chickpeas also have what meat doesn't have: more than 12 grams of fiber. That added fiber in your diet could be key to losing weight. A 2023 study in Frontiers in Nutrition found that people who lost weight increased the fiber in their diet through plant-based foods such as chickpeas. Legumes aren't only good for weight loss. Eating beans every day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 6%, according to a 2023 review in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases.

How chickpeas lower your heart disease risk

Your risk for heart disease increases if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, an unhealthy diet, or obesity. Chickpeas have you covered. A 2006 study in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that eating chickpeas for 5 weeks reduced people's total cholesterol levels by 3.9% and LDL cholesterol by 4.6%. You only need to eat 5 cups of chickpeas a week to reduce your blood pressure, waist circumference, and HbA1c, according to a 2012 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.

If you're already eating chickpeas, you're probably eating relatively healthy. A 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences looked at the diets of more than 200 people who incorporated chickpeas or hummus into their diets. They tended to have a higher diet quality overall, with less saturated fat and more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also had a lower body mass index (BMI) and were less likely to have high blood sugar.

More health benefits of chickpeas

Chickpeas have other nutrients to keep you healthy, including canned chickpeas. That same cup of chickpeas provides 26% of your iron, 10% of potassium, and 23% of zinc to help you meet your daily needs. Chickpeas also have plenty of B vitamins, including 71% of your recommended daily folate. Bioactive compounds in chickpeas such as lycopene, biochanin A, and saponins have been found to reduce certain types of cancer, according to a 2016 article in Nutrients. Resistant starch found in chickpeas also produces butyrate in your gut, which can suppress the growth of cancer cells. The fiber in chickpeas not only keeps you feeling full but also keeps your poop regular.

A 2020 article in Nutrients says adding more chickpeas to your diet can involve some simple swaps. Rather than starting your day with toast with butter and jam, put a little hummus on your toast to reduce your daily sugar intake and boost your fiber and protein. Swap a tablespoon of hummus for mayonnaise on your lunchtime sandwich to save 74 calories and shave 8 grams of fat. Topping your typical dinner salad with ⅓ cup of chickpeas will make your salad a little more filling and add some key phytonutrients and antioxidants to improve your overall health.