Hummus, that creamy dip that hails from the Middle East, has a reputation as a clean, healthy food. And, it deserves it. All the main ingredients are super foods in their own right.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans is hummus’s main ingredient, give you protein, good-for-you carbs, and fiber. Like other members of the legume family, they routinely top lists of the world’s healthiest foods.
Garlic and olive oil are two of the best-known and most studied ingredients. These zesty seasonings give hummus its great flavor.
A 2-tablespoon serving of hummus contains about 50 calories, and provides you with 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. It also contains 5 grams of fat, all of which is the healthier unsaturated type of fat. The combination of fiber and protein will help keep you feeling full for longer than if you had consumed a snack that only contained refined carbohydrates.
A serving of hummus will provide you with 6 percent of the daily value for folate and 4 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6 and thiamine. Folate helps prevent birth defects and is especially important for pregnant women. All three of these B vitamins help to turn the food you eat into energy and are necessary for keeping your skin, liver, hair, and eyes healthy, as well as for proper brain and nervous system functioning.
One serving of hummus provides you with 6 percent of the daily value for phosphorus and magnesium and 4 percent of the daily value for iron and zinc. Phosphorus is needed for creating energy, repairing cells and tissues and keeping your muscles, nerves, and kidneys functioning properly, and magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function, a healthy immune system, and strong bones. Cell growth and oxygen transport in your body require iron, and zinc is needed for wound healing, immune function, and the creation of DNA and proteins.
While hummus is good for you, it can be high in calories due to its fat content. Therefore, as with many foods, it is good for you in moderation.
Serve It Up
Traditionally, hummus is served on a large plate, usually drizzled with olive oil and herbs and accompanied by fresh pita, tomato, onion, roasted red peppers, cucumber salad, and maybe some falafel.
It can be used as a dip for vegetables, tortillas, crackers, or whole-wheat pita. You can also use it to fill cherry tomatoes or in deviled eggs for a different type of healthy appetizer, or use it as one layer in a seven-layer dip.
But hummus isn’t just for dipping. It makes a great sandwich spread, too. Try it instead of mayo. You’ll get more protein and fiber for half the calories you would from mayonnaise. Hummus adds 1 gram of fat to your meal, compared to 5 grams for regular mayo.
Make Your Own
While it’s convenient to buy a plastic container of hummus at the store, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to whip up at home. You’ll save a few bucks and know exactly what’s in your hummus.
Just combine 1 can of drained chickpeas, ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic to taste (try 1-2 cloves), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the juice of half a lemon in a food processor or blender, and whirl until smooth. Fun stir-ins can include olives, green and black; pine nuts; sundried tomatoes, diced crispy vegetables such as cucumbers or celery… the list is only limited by your imagination and tastes.
You can adjust the proportions of the ingredients to taste, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be and how thick you like your hummus. Start with less liquid than you think you might need. You can always add more as you blend it, but if you add too much, you’ve got a sauce, not a dip.
Including hummus in your diet is a good choice, provided you monitor the amount you eat and carefully select the foods you pair with the hummus. Delicious and easy-to-prepare, why not including it in your diet? See below for a basic hummus recipe.
- Live Strong, Livestrong.com
- Sabra, sabra.com
- WebMD, webmd.com