What is hummus?
Hummus is a popular dip or paste made with chickpeas, sesame seeds or tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon and garlic. It originated from the Middle East but is readily found in supermarkets and shops, often with different twists on the classic recipe such as caramelised onion hummus, Moroccan hummus or roasted pepper hummus.
A level tablespoon (30g) provides the following:
92 Kcal / 382 KJ
Top 5 health benefits
1. A useful source of fibre
Made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), hummus is naturally rich in fibre. Studies support that the type of fibre in chickpeas has a positive effect on our gut health, promoting the numbers of beneficial bacteria which in turn helps enhance intestinal health.
2. May help control blood sugar levels
Beans and pulses, like chickpeas, are rich in protein, resistant starch and fibre, all of which slows the speed at which we digest them. This means they have a low glycaemic index (GI) and release their energy more steadily. Eating more of these low GI foods helps steady blood sugar levels and may support blood sugar management.
3. May be good for the heart
Hummus contains fibre-rich chickpeas as well as olive oil and sesame seeds which are a source of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Studies suggest that diets rich in legumes like chickpeas, may help reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, whilst mono-unsaturated fats, especially olive oil may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you rely on shop-bought hummus always check the label because some brands replace olive oil with sunflower or rapeseed oil because it is a cheaper alternative.
4. May help weight management
Including chickpeas regularly in the diet appears to be associated with a lower weight, lower body mass index (BMI) and a better waist circumference. This is partly thanks to the type of starch in chickpeas, one-third of which is a type called amylose. This starch is more resistant to our digestive enzymes which means the more amylose in a food the less digestible the food is.
5. Rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients
The classic ingredients involved in making a traditional hummus like chickpeas, sesame seeds and olive oil have beneficial properties including being anti-inflammatory. In fact, virgin olive oil is said to have an anti-inflammatory action which is on a par with ibuprofen.
Is hummus safe for everyone?
Hummus is safe for most people, however, if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients such as chickpeas (legumes), sesame seeds or garlic you should avoid eating it. It’s also worth being mindful that some shop-bought hummus may include unexpected extras, so always check labels before purchasing.
This article was reviewed on 19th July 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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