Chickpeas or chana are grown and consumed all over the Indian subcontinent as well as in other parts of the world. There are many varieties of chickpeas which are used to cook traditional and healthy foods including dal, hummus, curries and snacks. Kala chana or Bengal gram is a smaller and darker variety of chickpeas which is very popular in countries like India.

Kala chana is easily available in the market and looks like dried, shrivelled, dark brown or light brown mini versions of chickpeas. The outer shell of this legume is removed and the remaining product split to make chana dal or split chickpeas. Kala chana is used extensively in all Indian households in one form or another.

Like most legumes, kala chana is packed with dietary fiber, plant proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Because this legume is so packed with nutrition, there are many benefits you can gain from adding it to your diet. From aiding weight loss to controlling your cholesterol levels, kala chana has many benefits to provide. However, overeating kala chana may lead to adverse health outcomes, so you must consult a doctor or nutritionist about the right amount you can consume safely.

Did you know?

Sattu, a powdered flour typically used in east Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha, is made of kala chana. Sattu is used to prepare highly nutritious drinks and traditional recipes, all of which are considered to be good for health.

Some basic facts about kala chana:

  • Botanical name: Cicer arietinum
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common name: Kala chana, Bengal gram, black gram, chana dal
  • Sanskrit name: Chanaka
  • Parts used: Whole legume, sprouted legume, chana dal
  • Native region and geographical distribution: India is the largest producer of kala chana, followed by Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are the key producers of kala chana in India.
  1. Kala chana (Bengal gram) nutrition facts
  2. Benefits of kala chana (Bengal gram)
  3. Side effects of kala chana (Bengal gram)
  4. Takeaways

Apart from dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, kala chana is also packed with antioxidants like anthocyanidins, delphinidin and petunidin. All of these combine to make kala chana an extremely nutritious food. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following are the nutritional facts for mature, boiled (without salt) kala chana or Bengal gram.

Nutrient Value per 100g
Water 60.21 g
Energy 164 kcal
Protein 8.86 g
Total lipid (fat) 2.59 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 27.42 g
Fiber, total dietary 7.6 g
Sugars, total including NLEA 4.8 g
Vitamin A 1 µg
Vitamin C 1.3 mg
Vitamin E  0.35 mg
Vitamin K 4 µg
Calcium 49 mg
Iron  2.89 mg
Magnesium 48 mg
Phosphorous  168 mg
Potassium 291 mg
Sodium 7 mg
Zinc 1.53 mg
Manganese 1.03 mg
Selenium 3.7 µg

Packed with plant proteins, dietary fibers and a multitude of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, kala chana is a nutritious food you must add to your diet. The addition of kala chana to your regular diet can benefit your health in many ways. This is especially true for vegetarians and those following a vegan diet, since kala chana is a plant-based source of many essential nutrients your body needs to prevent diseases, stay fit and healthy. The following are some of the benefits you can gain by introducing kala chana into your diet.

Kala chana aids digestion

Dietary fiber is an essential nutrient for perfect digestive health because it adds bulk to your diet and aids bowel movements while also assisting the gut microbiome in releasing essential digestive enzymes. Kala chana is packed with dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, and is therefore great for your digestive health. Some studies also show that consuming kala chana can help prevent the growth of unhealthy microbes in your gut and, in turn, prevent everything from diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, stomach infections and peptic ulcers.

Kala chana improves heart health

Kala chana is packed with many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, some of which can go a long way in keeping heart diseases at bay. The magnesium and potassium found in kala chana is especially effective in preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and improving blood sugar control. These three issues are known to pose as major risk factors for heart disease, so consuming kala chana regularly in moderate amounts can help prevent cardiovascular issues and improve your heart health.

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Kala chana is gluten-free

Gluten is a type of protein found in many grains and may cause moderate to severe health issues in people with gluten intolerance. While kala chana is a legume, and therefore a grain, it is completely gluten-free. This means that people with celiac disease and Crohn’s disease may safely consume kala chana and kala chana products like sattu and chana dal without experiencing any of the adverse health effects that glutenous foods may cause.

(Read more: Gluten-free foods)

Kala chana may help control diabetes

Apart from helping with digestion, the dietary fiber in foods like kala chana has another role to play. The fiber and the protein in kala chana work to prevent postprandial blood sugar rise, meaning that they prevent your blood glucose levels from spiking up dangerously after you have a meal. This is an essential part of diabetes control, which is why kala chana is considered to be a safe food for people with prediabetes and diabetes. Additionally, the glycemic index of kala chana is just 8, which also makes it a reliable source of nutrition for people with blood sugar control issues.

(Read more: Diabetes diet)

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Kala chana aids weight loss

Packed with protein and fiber, kala chana is extremely effective in making you feel full and energetic for a longer time while also curbing your appetite and unhealthy cravings. This makes kala chana an excellent choice if you are looking to lose weight by eating healthy. What’s more, the plant proteins in kala chana can also ensure that while you may lose fat, your muscle mass and health remain intact. With a little exercise added to a diet that includes kala chana, you may even build more lean muscle mass successfully.

(Read more: How to lose weight)

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Kala chana improves hair and skin

Your skin and hair health depends largely on a number of macro- and micronutrients, especially proteins, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, copper and selenium. These vitamins and minerals not only ensure proper skin and hair growth but also prevent hair loss, skin infections and other issues. Kala chana is packed with these proteins, vitamins and minerals you need for proper hair and skin health. What’s more, kala chana also has sufficient amounts of antioxidants needed to improve your hair and skin condition too.

(Read more: Skin diseases and disorders)

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Kala chana may prevent cancer

Studies show that the consumption of chickpeas and its variants like kala chana can aid the production of fatty acids like butyrate and phytonutrients like saponins in your body. These compounds, along with all the other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in kala chana, are quite effective in reducing oxidative stress and free radical damage to the cells - which in turn is believed to reduce the risks of various cancers like colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer. However, more research is needed to establish this link between the cancer-preventing potential of kala chana.

(Read more: Diet for cancer patients)

Although kala chana is a nutrient-dense food, overeating it or cooking it the wrong way can lead to adverse health effects. It is very important to remember that all legumes, lentils and grains may have toxins on their surface. So, washing them thoroughly and cooking them until well done is vital. The following are all the side effects that may be caused by consuming kala chana.

Kala chana may cause indigestion

Most legumes like kala chana have a warming effect on your body on overconsumption. This, and the malabsorption of plant proteins and dietary fiber, can lead to indigestion and other stomach-related problems. If you experience diarrhea, stomach gas, flatulence or burping after kala chana consumption, limit your intake and talk to a doctor. Excessive consumption of kala chana can also cause constipation.

(Read more: Home remedies for stomach gas)

Kala chana may cause allergy

There are many people who have legume allergies, which may be triggered by consuming kala chana. If left untreated, this may cause an anaphylactic shock too. If you see any allergic reactions like skin rashes, choking, breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting after consuming kala chana then head to a hospital emergency room immediately.

(Read more: How to stop nausea and vomiting)

Kala chana may worsen digestive disorders

Kala chana, like all legumes, is packed with dietary fiber. If you have a preexisting digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) then limit or avoid kala chana consumption, especially in its sprouted form. This is because dietary fibers can irritate the bowel and trigger IBS symptoms and flare-ups. If you do get symptoms of IBS after consuming kala chana, then consult a doctor immediately.

(Read more: Diet for irritable bowel syndrome)

Kala chana may interact with medications

Kala chana is chock full of potassium, which may be good for blood pressure control - but not if you are already on blood pressure or heart medications. Such medications, like beta-blockers, tend to increase the potassium levels in the body. So, if you consume high amounts of kala chana while taking these medications, it can cause potassium toxicity in your body.

(Read more: Potassium deficiency)

Kala chana is a highly nutritious legume which is also gluten-free. Eating this legume is considered to be healthy, which is why you are likely to find many Indian recipes for kala chana. However, it is very important to remember that not all recipes are healthy recipes. If you eat overly spicy or oily kala chana then it may negate all the health benefits associated with this legume and instead cause you harm. Excessive consumption of such dishes may lead to digestive issues like indigestion and diarrhea.

Similarly, you should be cautious of eating raw or sprouted kala chana as it may cause stomach gas, bloating and other issues too. This may be because of a legume allergy or underlying digestive disorder, but take such reactions seriously and consult a doctor about your kala chana consumption. If you have no adverse reactions to kala chana and can consume it safely, then including this legume in your diet can be quite beneficial.


  1. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C. USA; Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt
  2. Mathur, K.S. et al. Effect of Bengal gram, Kabuli gram, green gram and Bajra on serum and tissue lipids in rabbits fed on hypercholesterolaemic diet. J Assoc Physicians India . 1965 Dec;13(12):923-8. PMID: 5853538
  3. Mridula, D. et al. Effect of storage on quality of fortified Bengal gram sattu. J Food Sci Technol. 2010 Jan; 47(1): 119–123. PMID: 23572613
  4. Sharma, Alok. et al. Formulation, standardization and characterization of novel sattu beverage enriched with beetroot juice. J Food Sci Technol . 2020 May;57(5):1936-1943. PMID: 32327804
  5. Mand, JK. et al. Role of Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum) seed coat as an antiatherogenic agent in rabbits. Indian Heart J . Sep-Oct 1991;43(5):347-50. PMID: 1668207
  6. Nair, GN and Das, HR. Hemagglutinins in vegetative tissues of Bengal gram. Plant Foods Hum Nutr . 2000;55(3):243-53. PMID: 11030478
  7. Prathapan, A. et al. Effect of sprouting on antioxidant and inhibitory potential of two varieties of Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum L.) against key enzymes linked to type-2 diabetes. Int J Food Sci Nutr . 2011 May;62(3):234-8. PMID: 21126210
  8. Madhavan, M. et al. Lipodiatic activity of Bengal gram. Indian J Med Sci . 1971 Nov;25(11):771-5. PMID: 5138953
  9. Nityanand, S. and Kapoor, NK. Effect of Bengal gram, Cicer arietinum L., on experimental atherosclerosis. Indian J Exp Biol . 1973 Jan;11(1):65-6. PMID: 4779297
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