Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are one of the most recommended plant-based sources of protein.
I’ve broken the amino acid profile of chickpeas based on data from a research paper.
Note that amino acid content of foods depends on the strain grown, and even where it was grown. That’s one reason why it’s good to vary your protein sources in order to safeguard against variability.
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Chickpeas Amino Acid Profile Table
The study I mentioned above can be found here.
Researchers looked at 3 strains of chickpeas grown in Pakistan.
While the amino acid profiles were similar, there were significant differences in each strain. I’ve simply averaged the values for convenience in the table below.
Essential amino acids (the ones the body cannot synthesize) are marked with an asterisk.
|Amino Acid||Chickpea Protein %|
Are Chickpeas a Complete Protein?
Typically when people are looking for data about amino acids, what they’re really interested in are the essential amino acids.
In other words, are chickpeas a complete protein?
The table below compares the amount of each essential amino acid in chickpeas to the minimum amount in a complete protein as defined by the WHO.
|Amino Acid||Complete Protein (min %)||Chickpea Protein %|
These values are all in percent of total protein in the food. For example, for 100 grams of chickpea protein (that’s a lot of chickpeas), there is 1.5 grams of histidine.
The takeaway is that chickpeas actually exceed the minimum threshold percent for every essential amino acid group.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that the WHO would consider chickpeas a complete protein source.
What to Pair With Chickpeas For a More Complete Protein
The one thing you may have noticed above is that chickpeas barely exceed the minimum for methionine plus cysteine.
Certain strains are almost certainly below that threshold.
This isn’t surprising, because if you look at the essential amino acid profiles of beans, methionine is always one the amino acid that they lack the most.
Assuming you’re on a plant-based diet and want to compensate for that relatively low amount of methionine, here’s a list of the best plant-based food sources of methionine.
The top ones overall are:
- Vital wheat gluten
- Brazil nuts
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
It’s pretty easy to add seeds and spinach to any meal with chickpeas.
Note that you don’t need a perfectly complete protein in each meal, as long as you’re getting enough in your regular diet overall.