Delight in the Delicious, Healthy Power of Hummus
Hummus—a creamy, chickpea-based spread that’s been eaten around the world for thousands of years—has taken American grocery stores by storm. More and more, people are catching on to the “yum factor,” says Teresa Garvey, Virtua registered dietitian and hummus aficionado.
“Hummus is delicious, and it comes in a ton of flavors. It’s also inexpensive (if you make it yourself) and versatile,” she says. “More importantly, eating hummus in moderation provides a powerhouse of health-boosting nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s almost hard to describe all the health benefits of eating it regularly...it really is that good for you.”
Sounds promising, but can eating more hummus really change your health for the better? Garvey answers with a resounding yes as she describes the health benefits of its key ingredients.
Chickpeas are full of fiber and protein. That combination helps you stay full longer, making them helpful for weight management. They have exceptionally high levels of iron, vitamin B6, and magnesium, which can reverse anemia, support heart health, and slow bone loss. “You can use canned chickpeas (and rinse them well to reduce sodium content) or dried chickpeas, which are cheaper but need to be soaked overnight, rinsed, and cooked,” says Garvey.
Tahini is a word with Arabic and Modern Greek origins, and it means “to crush or grind.” That’s what you do to make tahini; you grind sesame seeds into a paste with a bit of olive oil. Think of it as “sesame butter.” Sesame seeds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals, and pack a major protein punch. They also contain phytosterols, which are plant compounds that can reduce cholesterol and even decrease your risk of developing certain cancers. You can make your own tahini at home, or look for it in a specialty aisle at your local grocery store.
Many studies have reported that eating garlic, which contains lots of antioxidants and a special sulfur compound called allicin, can do incredible things. This includes boosting heart health, preventing colds, strengthening the immune system, fighting cancer, and reducing the symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
“Olive oil is a healthy fat, and its presence in hummus means your body can better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins present in the other ingredients, and anything you eat it with,” says Garvey. Olive oil is another well-known superfood with many benefits:
- Decreases the risk of developing certain cancers
- Helps people fight cancer after diagnosis to prevent recurrence
- Helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- May help with inflammatory conditions and slow bone loss
On a final note, Teresa points out that “hummus is gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free, which means that just about everyone can eat it, even those on restricted diets.”
Updated February 15, 2017