Gram flour, also known as besan, is a pulse flour made from ground chickpeas called gram chickpea. Gram flour has a higher percentage of carbohydrate (s) and fiber than other flour. It also contains less gluten.
Chickpea flour has higher protein than the regular white flour and more fiber. There are some important caveats to remember if you have read recent headlines about chickpea flour’s benefits for your health.
What’s all this talk about chickpea flour?!
A recent study has led to headlines that chickpea flour may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study found that buns made from a particular type of chickpea flour had a lower blood glucose spike than buns made from regular white flour.
However, the flour used in the study was not the chickpea flour you would find in a grocery shop (often called gram flour or besan). It was made to preserve the plant cells.
Cell walls are made up of fiber. The starch found in plants is also contained within cell walls. Consuming whole foods, such as chickpeas takes longer for your body to absorb the starch contained in the cells. However, starch is more readily available when the cells are ground into flour. This allows for faster digestion.
The study revealed that a specific type of chickpea flour (PulseON) made from the intact cells slows down the digestion of volunteers. This is good news if you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. They didn’t test chickpea flour from grocery stores.
But what about regular chickpea flour?
This study might have inspired you to try regular chickpea flour. Good news: Even the regular chickpea flour found in a grocery store is high-quality and can be used as a part of a healthy diet. Here are the nutrition facts:
One cup of chickpea flour (92g) contains:
- 356 calories
- 21 grams of protein
- 6 grams of fat
- 53g carbs and 10g of fiber, respectively
One cup of all-purpose flour (125g) is comparable.
- 455 calories
- 13 grams of protein
- 1 gram fat
- 95g carbs and 3g of fiber,
A cup (120g) of whole wheat flour contains:
- 408 calories
- 16 grams of protein
- 3 grams of fat
- 86g carbs and 13g fiber
Chickpea flour is a higher protein source than wheat flour but has slightly lower fiber than whole wheat. It has fewer calories per cup. Chickpea flour is worth considering if you like the macros and are open to trying new flavor combinations.
How to use chickpea flour
If you are looking for recipes, search for “chickpea” to find American-style recipes that use chickpeas flour as a substitute. These vegan frittatas don’t contain eggs. However, searching for “besan” will bring up recipes.
You can substitute chickpea flour with regular wheat flour if you’re making baked goods. However, make sure to find a recipe that considers the texture difference. It is possible to use wheat gluten or a mixture of flour. Be aware that increasing your intake of fiber can cause upset stomachs.