Gram flour, more popularly known as besan is a highly nutritions food which provides us with lots of health benefits. Owing to it’s high protein content it can be easily be consumed by vegetarians to fulfil their protein needs. It not only is useful inside but also outside the body. From time immemorial besan has been used as a home made face pack to remove tan and to lighten the skin. Being such a versatile item, besan has found a permanent place in our kitchens. All of us have had the pleasure of tasting the different yummy dishes made with besan as it is a favourite ingredient for indian home made healthy snacks option.

Now if we were to tell you that eating besan not only supplies you with a truckload of health benefits but also helps you lose weight along the way? Yes, that is correct. Besan has lesser calories than whole wheat flour. Being nutritionally dense they promote weight loss as they contain lower levels of fat as compared to their non-vegetarian protein counterparts. According to various studies adding protein & fiber to your diet may help control cravings, as they take longer to digest than carbohydrates, helping you feel fuller for longer and on fewer calories, which could help you lose weight. Besan is also rich in fiber, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, vitamin B-6 and thiamine.

1 bowl of cooked chickpeas can fulfil approximately 20 % of your daily protein requirement.

The health benefits of gram flour/besan are as follows:

1. Helps Lower Cholesterol: Gram flour contains healthy unsaturated fats which help in lowering the cholesterol level of the body.

2. Controls Diabetes: Owing to its low glycemic index, it is a great food for diabetics. Use it in your rotis, paranthas as a replacement for flour. Glycemic index of chickpea is just 10.

3. Helps improve health of the heart: Besan has high soluble fiber content which is beneficial for the health of the heart. It is also endorsed by the Heart Care Foundation.

4. Healthy alternative for Gluten: Since besan does not contain gluten, it is a great substitute to wheat and other gluten containing grains, for those people who are allergic to gluten.

5. Helps getting rid of iron deficiency: Being rich in iron, consumption of besan on a daily basis can help your body recover from iron deficiencies like anaemia.

6. Useful in pregnancy: Gram flour is rich in folate, a vitamin which takes care of the foetus’ brain and spinal cord development and ensures a healthy well developed baby.

7. Helps during fatigue: Gram flour is a good source of the vitamin Thiamin which helps the body in converting food into energy.

8. Helps regulate mood and appetite: Besan is rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is an important component involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin plays an important in mood and appetite regulation.

9. Helps regulate blood pressure: The magnesium content of besan helps in maintaining vascular health and it also helps in the regulation of blood pressure.

10.Helps in strengthening of bones: The phosphorous in gram flour combines with calcium in the body to help in the formation of bones.

Here are some easy ways to add chickpea to your diet:

Dhokla: Popular snack in India Dhokla is healthy, filling and tasty. The cooking procedure requires fermentation of the flour which actually enhances its nutritive value. Two medium pieces of steamed, home-made dhokla contain about 45 calories.

Chila: The nutty flavour and taste of Besan or chickpea flour makes it a tasty breakfast option. Besan flour is naturally higher in protein than wheat-based flours. Make the batter for Besan pancake or chila with curd or milk; add vegetables and pan-grill with minimal oil. Have it with a glass of low fat milk or curd.

Chaat: Chickpea chaat is easy to prepare. Take boiled chickpea; add raw, chopped onion & tomatoes. Sprinkle some black pepper, salt and squeeze fresh lime on top. It is the freshest & healthiest food you can snack on. A bowl of chickpea chaat contains approximately 120 calories.

Chickpea Salad: Here is a simple recipe of a Mediterranean chickpea salad. Add finely chopped raw red bell peppers, onions, cucumber and tomatoes to a bowl of pre-boiled chickpeas. For dressing use vinegar, lime, yogurt, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them together and sprinkle feta cheese on top

Spicy Chickpea Soup: Make this instant spicy chickpea soup at home. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker and sauté garlic, onion till it turn pinkish in colour. Add pre-boiled chickpeas, tomatoes, salt, cardamom powder, cumin seeds, 3 cups of hot water and wait for a single whistle. Serve it hot with coriander leaves. A bowl of this soup contains approximately 160 calories.

Now that we have given you all the nutrition facts and delicious recipes, just go ahead and involve as much gram flour as you can in your daily diet.