Fava Beans vs Chickpeas: Differences & Nutrition

Beans are a beloved protein by people worldwide, especially those on a plant-based diet! With over 400 different types of beans, it’s always interesting to discover new options and try different beans. In this post, we’ll dive into the differences and similarities, particularly around nutrition and the health benefits between fava beans and chickpeas. Is one healthier for you than the other? Which one should you be eating when given a choice? Keep reading to find out!

Key Differences Between Fava Beans vs Chickpeas

The main difference is fava beans have a more creamy and nutty flavor than chickpeas. Fava beans go well in soups and salads. Chickpeas have a more mild, beany flavor and complement most foods. Chickpeas provide more calories, protein, dietary fiber, and nutrients per serving than fava beans.

bowl of green fava beans, next to fava bean pods
Fava Beans

Fava Beans (Broad Beans)

Fava beans are green legumes, also known as field beans, horse beans, and in the United States, broad beans.

Fava beans are light green and grow in a wide, bumpy green pod with a rugged exterior. The green fava bean pods holding the beans have a clear skin inside the pod that cushions the beans and is typically removed before eating. They look somewhat similar to green peas but are much larger and broader in size.

They are a springtime crop and can be found throughout the world, dating back thousands of years. They are commonly a part of Asian, African, European, Middle Eastern, and South American cuisines. Fresh fava beans can be enjoyed raw or cooked, or they can be dried out and saved for later use.

Fava beans are very nutritious and versatile, pairing well with salads, stews, and sauces. They can also be eaten as a snack or served as a side dish.

Young fava beans are tender, so they can be eaten raw and, when cooked, need minimal cooking. Mature fava beans perform best when soaked first and will have a more buttery texture when cooked.

Fava Beans Taste

Fava beans have a complex taste that some describe as earthy, light, buttery, and nutty, with a hint of bitterness. When cooked, they also have a slightly sweet and nuttier flavor to them. Overall they are described as having a mild flavor and tasting similar to chickpeas.

While they perform best when cooked, you can also eat them raw. Fava beans go great tossed on top of salads or mixed in with soups, stews, and other similar dishes.

Fava Bean Substitutes

Lima Beans

Lima beans are the best substitute for fava beans as they are similar beans. They have a similar appearance, texture, and flavor to fava beans but are a bit starchier. You can even cook them the same way as fava beans. Lima beans are also commonly known as butter beans.

Butter beans are much easier to find in the grocery store for most people as fava beans are seasonal, while lima beans can be found year-round in the grocery store.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, also called white beans, are a good substitute for fava beans, particularly in soups and stews. They have a milder flavor, with a soft and creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. You can find them in the grocery store as dried beans or canned beans.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a common bean to find, and you may even have them in your pantry! Flavor-wise, they have a similar meaty and slightly earthy flavor that fava beans also have.

wooden bowl full light tan chickpeas, a spoon full of chickpeas rests next to the bowl
Chickpeas

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Chickpeas are another type of legume and one of the most common and popular legumes. They are also known as garbanzo beans. Chickpeas have a high amount of protein, making them a popular alternative for vegetarians and vegans to meat. They tend to be readily available at most grocery stores year-round as dried, canned, or pre-soaked beans.

Chickpeas are most commonly used in hummus and are also popular in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.

Differences Between Fava Beans vs Chickpeas

Fava beans and chickpeas have very different appearances. Fava beans are green and grown in pods, whereas chickpeas are not.

They both are round beans with a similar meaty and earthy flavor to them.

When making chickpeas and garbanzo beans, you can cook them in a similar fashion, although when using dried chickpeas, you will likely have to double the amount of water they cook in. Dried beans also tend to require more cooking time than fresh or canned beans.

Fava Beans vs Chickpeas Nutritional Values

Below are the key nutritional values of one cup of fava beans (cooked) and one cup of chickpeas (cooked).

1 cup of Fava Beans (cooked),
% Daily Value
1 cup of Chickpeas (cooked),
% Daily Value
Calories187269
Total Carbohydrate
-Dietary fiber
-Sugar
– Added Sugars
33.4 g, 11%
9.2 g, 37%
3.1 g
0 g
45.0 g, 15%
12.5 g, 50%
7.9 g
0 g
Protein12.9 g, 26%14.5 g, 29%
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat
0.7 g, 1%
0.1 g, 1%
4.2 g, 7%
0.4 g, 2%
Vitamin A25.5 IU, 1%44.3 IU, 1%
Vitamin C 0.5 mg, 1%2.1 mg, 4%
Vitamin E0.0 mg, 0%0.6 mg, 3%
Vitamin K4.9 mcg, 6%6.6 mcg, 8%
Thiamin0.2 mg, 11%0.2 mg, 13%
Riboflavin0.2 mg, 9%0.1 mg, 6%
Niacin1.2 mg, 6%0.9 mg, 4%
Vitamin B60.1 mg, 6%0.2 mg, 11%
Folate177 mcg, 44%282 mcg, 71%
Vitamin B120.0 mcg, 0%0.0 mcg, 0%
Pantothenic Acid0.3 mg, 3%0.5 mg, 5%
Calcium61.2 mg, 6%80.4 mg, 8%
Iron2.5 mg, 14%4.7 mg, 26%
Magnesium73.1 mg, 18%78.7 mg, 20%
Phosphorus212 mg, 21%276 mg, 28%
Potassium456 mg, 13%477 mg, 14%
Zinc1.7 mg, 11%2.5 mg, 17%
Copper0.4 mg, 22%0.6 mg, 29%
Manganese0.7 mg, 36%1.7 mg, 84%
Selenium4.4 mcg, 6%6.1 mcg, 9%
Nutrition Data Source

Nutritional & Health Benefits of Fava Beans and Chickpeas

Fava beans and chickpeas share very similar health benefits. They have similar nutritional profiles, with chickpeas tending to have a higher amount of vitamins and minerals per serving than fava beans.

Nutrient Rich

Fava beans and chickpeas boast an impressive nutritional profile all around. They provide a variety of vitamins and minerals and are a great source of dietary fiber and protein, all of which help support a healthy immune system.

Chickpeas are an incredible source of folate, boasting 71% of the DV, with fava beans delivering 44%. Folate supports healthy cell growth and function.

They are both a good source of iron, with fava beans providing 14% of the DV and chickpeas having 26%. Iron helps support the body’s red blood cells and oxygen to muscles; if iron is low, people may feel fatigued, among other symptoms.

When it comes to manganese, chickpeas really deliver with 84% of the DV and fava beans bringing in 36%. Manganese plays an important role in blood sugar regulation as well as supporting the body in building connective tissues, bones, and other nerve and body functions.

Muscle Building Plant Protein

Beans are known for being a great source of plant protein, and these two beans certainly deliver! Chickpeas have slightly more protein, with 14.5 grams of protein per cup vs 12.9 grams of protein per cup. They are an incomplete protein, though, missing some essential amino acids. Beans perform best when paired with a whole grain in order to make a complete protein, such as brown rice or quinoa.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

They are both full of dietary fiber, with chickpeas delivering 50% of the recommended daily value and broad beans having 37%. Fiber provides many benefits to support digestive health.

The fiber in fava beans and chickpeas is primarily soluble; when mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance in your digestive tract. It has also been known to help support healthy bacteria in your gut and ward off an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria.

Dietary fiber also helps to support digestive health by promoting regularity.

Supports Healthy Weight Management

The high amounts of dietary fiber and protein in fava beans and chickpeas can help promote weight loss and healthy weight maintenance by helping to keep your appetite under control. Together they work to slow digestion, which helps to promote a feeling of fullness.

Supports Heart Health

Being a great source of several vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, fava beans and chickpeas may support heart health by helping to lower high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

The soluble fiber in chickpeas not only helps promote healthy digestion but has also been shown to reduce triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. High levels of bad cholestrol may increase the risk for heart disease.

Lowering high blood pressure and bad cholesterol may help lower the risk of heart disease as well as ward off chronic diseases and other health problems.

Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels

The high fiber content combined with the protein in these two beans can help stop blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating, helping to manage diabetes. They are also a low glycemic index food, as they are unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes.

Key Takeaways

Beans make a great addition to a healthy and balanced diet. They are a rich source of protein and fiber while providing a variety of vitamins and minerals. They offer several health benefits, including promoting healthy digestion and weight management, supporting heart health, and controlling blood sugar levels.

While chickpeas and fava beans are both nutritious beans, overall, chickpeas offer more nutrient-rich in value per serving.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about finding freedom with food here.