Dietitian Juliette Kellow compares two vegetarian staples to help you shop and eat more healthily.
Like all pulses, chickpeas are low in fat but rich in fibre, making them a waistline and heart-friendly choice. They’re also packed with plant protein – half a can provides just under a fifth of our daily protein needs – and their inexpensive price tag means they’re ideal for using in recipes to replace some or all of the meat.
Chickpeas are especially good for boosting vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to mop up an excess of cell-damaging free radicals, which, if left unchecked, can potentially cause health problems in the long term.
They’re rich in fibre to fill us up and protein to aid satiety, which means kidney beans are a great choice for fighting hunger (kidney beans contain around a third more fibre than chickpeas). Along with the lower calorie content, this makes them useful if you’re trying to lose weight or often feel hungry.
Kidney beans are also richer in many vitamins and minerals than chickpeas, containing a quarter more iron, at least a third more calcium and phosphorus, and almost three times the amount of potassium.
And the winner?
Kidney beans. Both are rich sources of plant protein, but the extra calcium and iron in kidney beans makes them a particularly good choice for people following a vegan diet. An 80g serving of either counts as one of your five-a-day (but they only count as one, no matter how many you eat). Always choose those canned in water without any added sugar or salt.
For more advice on beans, we recommend: 10 ways with a can of kidney beans or The beginner’s guide to beans.