Health benefits of hummus include weight loss, skin care, and improved digestive system, heart health, and muscular functions. It is beneficial in treating diverse medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, anemia, and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and hypertension.
What is Hummus?
Hummus is an Arabic and Mediterranean dip or spread, made from chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, garlic, and tahini or sesame paste. In fact, the word ‘hummus’ is the Arabic version of chickpeas. It is believed to be an ancient and a popular delicacy that started off in the Middle East and countries like Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Israel are in love with this dish.
Types of Hummus
The most savored types of this delicacy include:
- Avocado hummus with lemon and cilantro
- Roasted garlic hummus
- Mushroom hummus
- Jalapeno hummus
- Spinach feta hummus
- Cumin roasted carrot hummus
Chickpeas are one of the earliest pulses grown in Mesopotamia and were a part of street cuisine in ancient Rome. Attributing to its appealing flavor and superb health factor, over the time hummus has found its place amongst the latest food trends and has gained popularity all over the world.
Nutritional Value of Hummus
Traditionally prepared hummus is rich in essential minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. It also provides vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and folate. It is a good source of plant-based protein and brings valuable fiber content to the plate. In addition to this, hummus offers essential fatty acids without any harmful cholesterol. However, basis the recipe followed, the nutritional content of the dish varies. For instance, the spinach and carrot variant would have more vitamin A and a scallion-based one would have more amount of vitamin C and K.
Health Benefits of Hummus
Hummus, on the whole, is a healthy and a convenient food with many benefits which can be incorporated into almost any meal. Let us discuss some of the benefits in detail:
Chickpea, which is the primary ingredient in the hummus, is rich in protein. It is best for vegans as their diet revolves around vegetarian food and non-dairy products. It also makes you feel full for longer, thereby reducing your chances of overeating or snacking in between the meals. Tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds and served as a dip with hummus, is a great source of protein as well.
Hummus helps in the regulating the blood sugar levels attributing to the low glycemic index (GI) of chickpeas. For preparing it at home, it is advisable to choose dried chickpeas instead of canned chickpeas as latter has a higher glycemic index. Fiber present in hummus is a complex carbohydrate. It does not get digested and hence, slows down the release of sugar in the body. This helps in keeping a check on diabetes. The American Diabetes Association also recommends the use of this chickpea food item as a part of diabetes meal plan.
Improved Heart Health
Hummus contains olive oil, which helps in maintaining cardiovascular health. According to research, consumption of olive oil has a reason behind the low mortality of cardiovascular diseases in southern European and Mediterranean countries. As also stated by The Wall Street Journal, consumption of olive oil-rich foods such as hummus helps cut down the chances of heart disorders such as stroke.
Balanced Cholesterol Levels
Hummus helps in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol attributing to the antiatherogenic nature of olive oil present in it. A study evaluating the effect of olive oil on the low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol has revealed positive results in terms of reduction of harmful LDL cholesterol and its vulnerability to oxidative cell damage. Another comparative study conducted on the patients suffering from the peripheral vascular disease has advocated the health quotient and protective effect of olive oil over sunflower oil against oxidation.
Olive oil, present in hummus, is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which provide multi-dimensional health benefits including relief from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery diseases, hypertension, and cancer.
Hummus is a good source of fiber, which helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system. So eating it has been proven beneficial in the regulation of bowel movements and brings relief from constipation. It adds bulk to the diet and keeps the hunger satisfied and makes you feel full for a longer duration. Thanks to hummus, you won’t look for something else to nibble soon after eating it.
Improved Bone Health
Protein-rich hummus is a great food for your bones as well. Along with that, hummus and tahini, both contain calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium, which help improve the bone mineral density. Bone loss is one problem faced by many people as they age, especially women who go through menopause. By including a calcium-rich food like hummus in the diet, one can prevent osteoporosis as well.
Boosted Energy Levels
The star in the recipe of hummus is chickpea, which is a great source of carbohydrates. It contains starch, a complex carbohydrate that can be used for energy. The natural sugars known as glucose in starch, need time to break down after consumption and this is beneficial in keeping the blood sugar in control as well along with boosting energy.
It provides a range of health benefits even during pregnancy. Folate-rich hummus helps in preventing the threat of birth defects in the babies, known as spina bifida. The amino acids, present in it, help elevate the mood and promote better sleep. Other essential nutrients including proteins and minerals found in it also contribute significantly towards the health of the mother as well as the growing fetus.
The base of hummus i.e. chickpeas is a source of amino acids, which are important for building healthy muscles and tissues. Hummus is a good source of proteins for vegans who do not get their share of nutrients from animal and dairy products. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which the body uses for physiological processes such as muscular strength, repairing of tissues, the functioning of the brain, and energy production.
Weaning Food for Babies
Hummus is recommended for small babies as their weaning food from nine months onwards. In absence of diet containing animal products such as meat or fish, it contributes beneficially in providing essential protein and other essential nutrients to the body. Hummus is also a healthy and appetizing way to train little children to eat raw veggies which they may refuse due to the bitter taste.
Prevention of Cancer
Hummus, rich in phytic acid and saponins, helps prevent the growth of cancerous cells. It is a good resource that keeps the harmful toxins from binding with the colon lining and flushes them from the body thereby preventing colon cancer. The chickpeas in it also contain isoflavones and phytoestrogens, which are linked with reduced risk of lung cancer.
Protein and fiber-rich hummus is one of the Mediterranean food that helps you manage your weight easily along with improving digestion. Tahini contains healthy monounsaturated fats that promote weight loss and aid in reducing the belly fat.
Reduced Allergic Reactions
Being a gluten-free food, hummus surely qualifies to be on the list of healthy foods to eat anytime. Plus, there are no dairy products too! Moreover, to reduce the risk of any other types of allergic reactions, this recipe can be customized accordingly.
Skin and Hair Care
Omega-3 fatty acids present in hummus help in skin care and stimulate hair growth. Chickpeas in it contain manganese that helps prevent skin sagging and hair loss. Zinc, in it, works as an antioxidant and helps delay aging and prevent hair thinning.
Lower Risk of Anemia
Adding hummus to your diet is a tasty, yet healthy way to fight iron deficiency. The iron, in chickpeas and tahini, helps carry oxygen to red blood cells throughout our body, thereby making up for the iron deficiency and preventing anemia.
How to make Hummus?
Although readymade traditional hummus can be found in any grocery store, making your own won’t require much time. All you need is a food processor.
Serves 2 – 3
- 1 cup boiled Chickpeas
- 3 tbsp Tahini paste
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt, to taste
- Step 1: Add tahini, lemon juice, finely minced garlic, olive oil, ground cumin, and salt (optional) to the processor and process till the paste becomes thick and creamy
- Step 2: Now add boiled or canned chickpeas and process till you achieve a creamy and smooth consistency
- Step 3: Serve the spread on a plate and garnish with olive oil and paprika, and enjoy!
Note: For ensuring a smooth consistency, you can add about 2-3 tablespoons of water to the chickpeas while blending.
Apart from the traditional preparation, you can also create a variation with hummus by adding a dash of roasted cumin powder, spinach, honey or get creative and try other new ingredients as per your own preference.
Tips for Savoring Hummus
- Hummus can be served as a dip with fresh raw vegetables like carrots.
- It is a healthy and tasty alternative to the sauces served with whole wheat tortilla and crackers.
- It can be used as a spread on sandwiches, burgers, and wraps.
- It can also be incorporated in spicy salsa, pasta, rice dishes or as a dressing in the salads.
Word of Caution: Hummus is a nutritious food, which can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. However, one needs to watch out for the intake basis their specific conditions. For instance, hummus can prove fruitful for individuals who are looking for increasing their fiber content. On the other hand, people suffering from diarrhea and gas should avoid it. Also, individuals who are allergic to sesame seeds or other ingredients used in the recipe should consider carefully before consumption.