Is Hummus Healthy For You?
Have you ever wondered if those little tubs of hummus you find at the grocery store are actually healthy for you? Hummus is marketed as a healthy snack option, but is it really? If you’re anything like us you’re probably hoping that the answer is yes! Hummus is super delicious and dresses up any veggie when used as a dip. Hummus is also a tasty snack that many kids enjoy which makes getting them to eat their veggies that much easier.
The great news is that, generally speaking hummus is an excellent healthy snack option. However, you do have to be careful when buying store bought hummus – we'll tell you here exactly what to look out for. It may even be better to make your own at home to ensure you’re actually getting the health benefits hummus provides. Let’s take a look into why hummus is healthy, and how you can be sure you’re actually getting the healthiest hummus available.
Top seven reasons why hummus is a great choice
- Helps with weight management: If you are looking for healthy snack options to help with your weight loss goals, hummus is an excellent choice. The chickpeas in hummus are packed with fiber which helps promote satiety, prevents overeating, and promotes a healthy digestive system. A 2015 study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that eating at least 30 grams of fiber per day can help you manage your weight.
- Helps control blood sugar: The chickpeas in hummus are low on the glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrates based on how they affect blood glucose levels. Foods lower on the glycemic index have more fiber and are digested more slowly, thus preventing a large spike blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is important for everyone, but especially those affected by both types of diabetes and with heart disease.
- Hummus is a high protein snack: If you are looking to increase your protein intake, hummus is a great source of plant-based protein. Most people should have anywhere from 46 – 56 grams of protein a day, making just 1/3 cup of hummus satisfy anywhere from 7% to nearly 9% of your daily protein requirement! For those following a vegan diet, eating hummus can be especially helpful for an extra protein boost. Protein is required for nearly every process in the body, hummus can make a great pre- or post-workout snack.
- Naturally gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free: With food allergies and sensitivities more prevalent than ever, having a food that’s gluten-, nut- and dairy-free is hard to find – but hummus is all of those things! While hummus itself is very allergy-friendly, it’s important to make sure that the facility it was manufactured in is also allergy-friendly. Be sure to read labels and do you research if you have a severe allergy to nuts, seeds, gluten, dairy, or other foods.
- Hummus makes an excellent spread: Hummus is an excellent alternative to mayonnaise, or other processed spreads normally used on sandwiches, wraps, or buns. With a wide variety of flavors, hummus can be a delicious complement to any healthy sandwich or veggie wrap, and can even be used as a base for a healthier chicken salad! Try mixing garlic hummus with mashed avocado for a healthy spread packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
- Helps fight inflammation: The main ingredients in hummus – chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil - all contain anti-inflammatory properties. Oleocanthal, an antioxidant found in olive oil, has been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Legumes like chickpeas, as well as sesame seeds, which make up tahini, can lower inflammatory markers.
- Hummus is incredibly easy to make: Hummus is one of those foods that anyone can make. It only takes a handful of ingredients, and five minutes of your time to whip up a delicious and nourishing snack. All you need is a food processor, chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Simply blend all of the ingredients together, and you have yourself a delicious hummus full of health benefits!
The top three things to look for when purchasing hummus
While hummus is generally a very healthy food choice, if you are buying hummus from the grocery store there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the healthiest option available.
- Stick to a hummus that has limited ingredients. A general rule of thumb is that if you see a food label with a long list of ingredients, chances are some of those ingredients aren’t healthy. Stick to a brand that contains only whole foods. You will want to see chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and tahini on the food label and that’s about it.
- Avoid additives. You will want to make sure the food label does not contain any additives such as potassium sorbate, artificial flavors, colorings, or benzoates. These are additives often found in store bought hummus that are added to extend its shelf life or make it look pretty, but can cause unwanted side effects from inflammation to skin issues.
- Check what kind oil is used. You have to be careful with store bought brands, as many manufacturers may choose to use cheaper oils, like canola, vegetable, or soybean oil, when making their hummus. These processed oils can cause inflammation, are primarily genetically modified, and contain harmful polyunsaturated fats. Make sure you to purchase a hummus made with olive oil and tahini since these are two of the ingredients that gives hummus its anti-inflammatory properties!
When made properly with wholesome ingredients, hummus is super healthy for you, easily accessible, affordable, and can be used in a variety of ways to boost the flavor of many meals. If you are looking for a healthier spread, a creamy dressing, or an indulgent dip, hummus is a great choice.
With the variety of flavors you can create, you really can’t go wrong! You can add in just about any herb or spice you want to reach the flavor you desire. If you have never made hummus before, and want to see just how easy it is, follow the recipe below:
Basic hummus recipe:
- 1 (15) ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
Simply place all ingredients into a food processor, or a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth.
That’s it! This is a basic recipe, so feel free to add in any herbs and spices to adjust the taste to your liking.
Conclusion to Eating Hummus
Finding foods that not only taste great but are also great for you is a good way to ensure you're getting the vital nutrients you need. It’s important to maintain balance in your life. Besides nutrition, focusing on your relationships, careers, and general physical health help create a more balanced life. Learn more about the other areas of our lives that “feed” us with the Circle of Life.
Do you have a favorite way to enjoy hummus, or a go-to recipe? Share with us in the comments below!