The Mediterranean Magic
Hummus is a creamy, thick spread made primarily from mashed chickpeas and a few other healthy ingredients that has become popular worldwide over the past couple of decades. It has long been enjoyed in Middle Eastern and North African countries and today in commonly eaten across North America and Europe too. It is very good for you and very tasty!
In fact, hummus is one of the most widely consumed Middle Eastern foods in the United States today; in 2008, over 15 million Americans reported that they eat hummus on a frequent basis! That’s a lot of people getting to experience all of the health benefits of hummus!
Benefits of Hummus
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern populations have been consuming good-quality olive oil and tahini for thousands of years. This type of diet that is still eaten in these regions today (which also frequently includes other hummus ingredients like beans, lemon, and garlic) has been shown to be very anti-inflammatory, and we know that inflammation is the root cause of many chronic disease.
Eating a diet similar to these healthy populations can help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels, to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and to lessen the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
So is hummus healthy? If you make homemade hummus with real ingredients or buy a quality store bought hummus then yes!
Basic hummus recipes contain 6 healthy ingredients: chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, and tahini. Flavored types of hummus- for example, popular types like roasted red pepper or Kalamata olive hummus which you may have seen in supermarkets- has additional ingredients that are mixed into the basic hummus recipe described above. This is good news because it keeps the tastes of hummus interesting and offers a wide variety of options. Hummus also goes very wine which needs to be chilled with a wine cooler.
Other Health Benefits
What is hummus good for? To start, hummus is an excellent protein source for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores too. Chickpeas, which are the base of nearly all hummus recipes, are high in protein which can help to make you feel full after consuming them. The feeling of satiety therefore makes you less likely to snack (especially on junk food) between meals.
Because hummus is often eaten with pita bread or another type of whole grain, the chickpeas and grains together make up a “complete protein”, meaning they contain all essential amino acids that are necessary for the body to acquire from food and to then use for energy.
Tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, is also a great source of important amino acids (specifically one called methionine), which allows tahini to create another complete protein when combined with chickpeas, similarly to chickpeas and grains do.