The question in everybody’s mind, when it comes to eating hummus is, “Is hummus healthy?” And if so, what are the health benefits that you can get from munching on this Mediterranean dip made of chickpeas?
Wonder no more because you are about to learn the answers to all of these questions.
YES, it’s healthy to eat hummus. Let’s begin with a crash course in hummus to be able to understand why it is healthy to consume on a daily basis.
What is hummus?
Hummus is a combination of a couple of ingredients. It has a dip consistency that you can make at home without the need for any cooking equipment. The basic hummus is made up of mashed chickpeas or garbanzo beans, tahini, squeezed lemon extract, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
Over the years, this basic hummus recipe has evolved and now you can find flavored ones like roasted red pepper, or kalamata olive hummus, etc.
Who eats hummus?
Hummus has been in existence since the 13th century in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt. It’s a dip in this region and is also a part of the Mediterranean cuisine. And a study done on those who strictly follow a Mediterranean diet resulted to a reduced heart disease risk.
A Mediterranean diet is a diet rich in olive oil, fish, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and wine.
When to eat hummus?
Hummus is considered an appetizer that you can eat on its own or use as a dip for pita bread. It is how the Middle Easterners and Mediterranean people eat it. You can eat this as a snack in between meals, or any time you want.
How to make hummus
Though you can actually buy hummus that is already mixed in supermarkets or restaurant, you’d be delighted to know that it can be made easily at home. All you need is a can of chickpeas, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, squeezed lemon juice from half a slice, and salt to taste.
The health benefits of hummus
Hummus’ health benefits stem from its ingredients. As mentioned above, hummus is made up of plant-based ingredients, so you know that you’re off on a great start. All of these ingredients have their separate health benefits.
But on a general note, hummus has Omega 3 fatty acids, and this aids in intelligence improvement and in maintaining a disease-free heart. Let’s see what each hummus ingredient has in store for you.
Great ingredients make a healthy dip
This crop is a great protein source. Protein won’t get you hungry easily so it will stop you from having hunger pangs. And this is vouched for by Nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos.
She also adds that it is a great source of iron, which is a great energy booster before working out. So if you eat hummus before hitting the gym, you’d have more energy.
It also has phytochemicals like carotenoids, sterols, and isoflavones. The combined effect of these is a reduction in having a risk for diet-related illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, as researched by the North Dakota University.
It is also a great source of fiber. And according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the fiber in chickpeas can help fight colorectal cancer. The fiber in your diet means that you will have a regular digestive tract activity and avoidance of constipation.
Also, dietary fiber aids in maintaining good bacteria in the intestine, which also helps in colon cancer prevention. Add the fact that it has folate, which also helps in the reduction of risk for colorectal cancer. Folate’s role is in making healthy cells in the body.
The carbohydrate in chickpeas is found to be slowly digested by the stomach, which means that there is lesser starch absorbed by the small intestine over time.
Chickpea is a bean, which means that it has three compounds found to be cancer preventers. These are protease inhibitors, saponins, and phytic acid aid. They guard the body cells against cancer damage.
Tahini is also a great source of iron, so together with chickpeas, it can help prevent anemia. Tahini also has calcium, which is important for strengthening the bones.
There is no question about how olive oil contributes to making hummus a healthy snack. Olive oil has the good fat which helps regulate cholesterol.
Garlic and lemon juice
Even though there is a lesser amount of garlic and lemon juice in hummus, it’s just enough to give you antioxidants. And we all know that antioxidants reduce stress from the body and, therefore, improves your immune system to fend off bacteria and viruses.
If hummus has all of these benefits, it’s just proper that there’s research to back it up. One study was conducted by the North Dakota University and used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The data was taken from 2003 to 2010 and showed information about people eating both chickpeas and hummus.
The study showed that those who ate hummus and chickpeas had a better diet because they had a lower intake of cholesterol, sugars, and total fat. They also had a lower body mass index, body weight, waist circumference.
Another study conducted in Louisiana State University almost showed similar results. People who ate hummus have at least 53% lesser chance of becoming obese. Also, these people have a 51% lesser chance of having high blood sugar. And if you’re worried about your waist size, eating hummus puts you at least 2 inches less than the average non-hummus consumer.
These are just a few of the studies out there, we’re certain there’s more. But even for a healthy snack like hummus, be sure to eat in small amounts because 1 cup has 408 calories. But hey, you won’t consume a cup in one sitting, would you?