Chickpea Protein – Higher protein density than Quinoa!

Chickpea Protein – Higher protein density than Quinoa!

I was eating hummas, aka mashed chickpeas aka mashed garbanzo beans, with a type of cracker the other day and it occurred to me that most plant seeds contain a fair amount of protein.  The analysis proved to be more than a little surprising

Is Chickpea Protein Complete?

This was a surprise.  It looks like chickpea protein is actually complete.  I know we tend to discount completeness here but it is nice to see a plant protein source where each amino acid bin is above the threshold.  So indulge your love for hummas!

Chickpea Protein Complete

Protein Density of Chickpeas

The protein density of chickpeas really isn’t that bad either.  We always look at it in terms of protein relative to calories.  However we express it in the more familiar way of calories per gram of protein.  Aka the caloric cost of one gram of protein.  The cheaper the better… usually.

In the plant world lentils and beans usually dominate with a large gap between them and the other common sources of plant protein.  Chickpeas happen to fall in this gap.  Perfect for people who don’t want to enter 20+ Calorie per gram junk food range.

Source Density (Calories per g of protein)
Pure Protein 4.00
Pacific Cod 4.54
Egg Whites 4.77
Turkey Breast 4.88
Alaskan Halibut 5.11
Chicken Breast 5.32
Whey 4.40
Tofu, Soft 8.51
Lentils 12.86
Kidney Beans 14.65
Black Beans 14.90
Pinto Beans 15.87
Chickpeas 18.51
Quinoa 27.27
Oatmeal 27.95
Brown Rice 48.28

Other Vitamins and Minerals in Chickpeas

We see the usual B vitamins and usual minerals found in seeds.  The values below are for 100g of boiled and unsalted chickpeas.   Divide by 100 (aka shift the decimal place over) to get the per gram values.

%DV
Manganese 52%
Folate 43%
Copper 18%
Phosphorus 17%
Iron 16%
Magnesium 12%
Sodium 10%
Zinc 10%
Potassium 8%
Thiamin 8%
Vitamin B6 7%

Comparison with Soy and Lentil Protein

The first thing you should notice is methionine and lysine.  Plants tend to play a game where one source is rich in either one or the other.  Happily, both are found in abundance in chickpeas.  In particular, methionine is virtually as high as it is in tofu.  Nice.

Chickpea Lentil and Soy Protein Comparison

Comparison with Whey

I always use whey as a benchmark protein.  Primarily because it’s one of the richest sources of the branch chain amino acid leucine.  Leucine is an important signal in the body of the presence of digesting protein and that signal is coupled to new protein synthesis.  So it’s good to look, at least, at how close to the “top” chick protein is in terms of leucine.  It really does fairly well at 7.4 vs 9.6.  You could do a LOT worse… broccoli is 5.8.

Chickpea and Whey Protein Comparison

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