Cowpea, also known as black-eyed pea that goes with a botanical name Vigna unguiculata is a versatile legume packed with an impressive nutrient profile. It is also known as southern pea, cow gram, Macassar bean, niebe, crowder pea and in the Indian subcontinent as chawli or lobia in Hindi, bobbarlu or alachandalu in Telugu, alasande in Kannada, karamani payir in Tamil, vanpayar in Malayalam and barbate in Bengali. It is an annual herbaceous legume that belongs to the Fabaceae family, which is cultivated widely in the dry regions across Africa and Asia.
Cowpea is an oval-shaped bean, pale in colour and has a distinct large black, brown or red spot that looks like an eye. Possessing a strong nutty, earthy flavour and rich creamy taste, it is used to make classic lobia chawal in Punjabi households and also served as gravies, soup and salad. The plethora of nutrients present in cowpeas are vital for the normal functioning of the body and may uplift overall well-being.
Black-eyed peas are a nutrient-dense legume which is imbued with vast reserves of protein and dietary fibre into each serving that helps in strengthening immunity and synthesis of collagen. Overpowered with the richness of vitamins like A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, folic acid, that support healthy cells and tissues functioning. In addition, it also contains a huge amount of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper and phosphorus, as well as potent antioxidant polyphenols that aid in eliminating free radical from oxidising healthy cells in the body.
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Read through this article to gain insight into the powerful health benefits of chawli/cowpea.
Potential Benefits Of Chawli:
Promotes Weight Loss
Rich in protein and soluble fibre, regular addition of chawli in your meal plan is the best way to shed excess kilos. Protein-rich foods reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates the feeling of hunger. While soluble fibre delays the gastric emptying time, keep you satiated and control unwanted hunger pangs. Studies have also revealed that adding black-eyed pea in the diet remarkably reduced belly fat and sustain weight.
Augments Heart Health
Relishing cowpea as a part of a healthy diet is a great way to optimise cardiac functioning and lower the risk of heart diseases. Being intrinsically rich in flavonoids, magnesium and potassium, cowpea regulates normal functioning of the cardiac muscles and lowers the inflammatory markers. While the abundance of dietary fibre and protein helps to diminish bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, triglycerides and control blood pressure. Apart from this, chawli also contain phytosterol compounds that help to maintain optimum lipid profile in the body.
Cowpeas are inherently low in glycemic index, as compared to other legumes and lentils, assists diabetic patients to maintain the blood sugar levels within the normal range. Aside from this, the goodness of soluble dietary fibre and protein keep you satiated, delays gastric emptying time and control blood sugar spike.
Improves Digestive health
Chawli is a good source of soluble fibre, which is a key nutrient when it comes to maintaining the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal system. A diet abundant in soluble fibre is well-known to regularise bowel movements, treat acid reflux, haemorrhoids and stomach ulcers. Moreover, black-eyed peas act as a prebiotic, enhancing the growth of the good bacteria in the gut that facilitate to foster healthy microbiome that act as a digestive aid, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
Enhances Skin Health
Cowpea bestowed with vast reserves of protein, zinc, vitamins A and C supports collagen synthesis and accelerates the process of skin repair and formation of new skin cells. Being immensely rich in antioxidants, it shields the skin cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thereby mitigates wrinkles, fine lines and delays sign of ageing. Thus making the skin supple, healthy and radiant.
Blessed with a myriad of antioxidants like vitamins A, C and polyphenols, chawli holds a significant role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Regular addition of cowpeas can help to get rid of detrimental free radicals, which can avert the growth of tumour cells and maintain optimal health.
Good For Pregnant Women
Chawli has immense quantities of folate (vitamin B9) that helps the body to synthesis and maintain red blood cells. This vitamin is of crucial importance for women who are planning to conceive, as well as pregnant women. As folate plays a vital role in preventing congenital defects in the foetus.
Cowpea may cause digestive discomfort for some people such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating due to the presence of raffinose, a kind of fibre that may upset tummy. However, soaking dried beans before cooking them helps to lower raffinose content and promotes smooth digestion. It also contains antinutrients like phytic acids which may hinder the absorption of vital nutrients. Hence, it is best to soak and cook them before consumption which can significantly lower phytic acid level and enhance better nutrient absorption.