British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary chickpeas reverse visceral adiposity, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance in rats induced by a chronic high-fat diet

Ying Yanga1, Libin Zhoua1, Yuanjun Gua2, Yibo Zhanga1, Jingfeng Tanga1, Fengying Lia1, Wenbin Shanga1, Boren Jianga1, Xiaohua Yuea2 and Mingdao Chena1 c1

a1 Shanghai Institute of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, 197 Ruijin Road II, Shanghai 200025, China

a2 Jumpsun Bio-medicine (Shanghai) Co. Ltd, Shanghai 201101, China


The improved effects of dietary chickpeas on visceral adiposity, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance were examined. Rats were fed a normal-fat diet (NFD), a high-fat diet (HFD) or a high-fat plus chickpea diet (HFD+CP) for 8 months. The epididymal fat pad weight v. total body weight of rats was higher in the HFD group (0·032 (sd 0·0042) g/g) than in the NFD group (0·015 (sd 0·0064) g/g) and smaller in the HFD+CP group (0·023 (sd 0·0072) g/g) compared with the HFD group (P < 0·05). Chickpea treatment also induced a favourable plasma lipid profile reflecting decreased TAG, LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) and LDL-C:HDL-cholesterol levels (P < 0·05). HFD-fed rats had higher TAG concentration in muscle and liver, whereas the addition of chickpeas to the HFD drastically lowered TAG concentration (muscle, 39 %; liver, 23 %). The activities of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in epididymal adipose tissue and hepatic TAG lipase in liver recorded a 40 and 23 % increase respectively in HFD rats compared with those in NFD rats; dietary chickpeas completely normalised the levels. Furthermore, chickpea-treated obese rats also showed a markedly lower leptin and LPL mRNA content in epididymal adipose tissue. An insulin tolerance test, oral glucose tolerance test and insulin-releasing test showed that chickpeas significantly improved insulin resistance, and prevented postprandial hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia induced by the chronic HFD. The present findings provide a rational basis for the consumption of chickpeas as a functional food ingredient, which may be beneficial for correcting dyslipidaemia and preventing diabetes.

(Received October 27 2006)

(Revised February 12 2007)

(Accepted March 21 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor Mingdao Chen, fax +86 21 64673639, email


Abbreviations: HDL-C, HDL-cholesterol; HFD, high-fat diet; HFD+CP, high-fat plus chickpea diet; HTGL, hepatic TAG lipase; ITT, insulin tolerance test; LDL-C, LDL-cholesterol; LPL, lipoprotein lipase; NFD, normal-fat diet