It has been dubbed a superfood and rightfully so. The health benefits of hummus are vast and numerous. It is safe and recommended to pregnant women, and it’s absolutely delicious. Believe it or not, this Arabic dish has been with us for literally thousands of years. Therefore, if you didn’t know much about it, now it’s time to learn. Also, if you weren’t eating it so far, you will after you read all about the health benefits of hummus.
The Brief and Delicious History of Hummus
Hummus is the Arabic word for ‘chickpea,’ because this is what it’s made of primarily. The story of hummus, however, begins in Babylon, however, since legend has it the chickpea actually grew in the mythical gardens. Its exact origin, alas, is now lost to us, simply because it has existed for so long. During all those thousands of years since people have been eating it, it traveled along the Levant and Mediterranean area, prodding all sorts of nations to claim it as their own.
However, what we can tell for sure is that hummus is one of the first dishes that man ever prepared. The fact that it’s still in existence today speaks volumes about its taste and added value as a nutritional element. We also know that it was highly consumed in antiquity in Palestine, Ancient Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Apart from that, it was sold as street food in Ancient Rome. What can you gather from this? Taste some hummus and you can actually taste Antiquity.
What is Hummus?
The most basic recipe for hummus calls for the chickpeas to be boiled and smashed. The puree is then thoroughly mixed with tahini, a special paste made from sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Still, hummus is such a versatile food that you can mix it with almost any other ingredient, flavoring, and spice you want.
Other delicious recipes call for hummus to be mixed with cayenne pepper for a spicier taste, chives, cloves, parsley, cinnamon, and even fruit for a tasty dessert.
Health Benefits of Hummus
Getting to the really interesting part, you may be interested to find out that hummus is not only delicious but extremely healthy as well. In fact, very few foods are quite as spectacularly healthy as hummus is.
#1. It keeps the digestive track regular
Hummus has a very high protein content. In fact, it’s made almost entirely out of protein, so it regulates your bowel movements. Since we all know what a nuisance irregular movements can be, we have hummus to thank for this problem being solved so easily. Apart from this, the high fiber content also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
#2. It lowers the cholesterol
The main ingredient in hummus, as already pointed out, is chickpeas. They are also known as garbanzo beans, and this means they belong to the bean family. This amazing vegetable clan has nutrients that lower cholesterol levels. However, if you are actively pursuing this by eating hummus instead of consuming it for its overall health benefits, then you should make it yourself at home. The store bought brands usually have much more salt and even olive oil than doctors recommend for you.
#3. Hummus can help combat and prevent cancer
This is one of the many health benefits of hummus it shares with its bean family. They are known to hold three particular elements that naturally protect cells of the type of dangers that cause cancer. These compounds beans and hummus have are saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid. Tests and studies have been performed. They all showed that eaten in the right amount and concentration hummus does indeed help prevent cancer via these compounds.
#4. Hummus helps you lose weight
One more reason for which it has been dubbed a superfood is that it helps you lose weight while being delicious. We all know that diet food isn’t normally so tasty, which is why it’s so difficult to go on diets in the first place. But not hummus. It’s creamy, and it has a wonderful nutty and earthy flavor you will simply fall in love with.
It’s also chock full of monounsaturated fats, most of which come from the tahini paste you can find in the hummus itself. It’s a very popular substitute for trans and polyunsaturated fats. These are the main culprits for weight gain and belly fat. However, all this can stop if you start eating the Oriental paste and trust the fantastic benefits of hummus.
#5. It helps strengthen the bones
Both main ingredients in hummus, the chickpea, and the sesame paste have a high calcium content. What is calcium best known for? Strengthening bones, of course. The primary target for these particular health benefits of hummus is middle-aged women or the ones who are headed toward menopause.
This natural female process is often associated with osteoporosis as well, so it’s recommended women get as much calcium into their systems as they can. They can take calcium supplements every day, but finding a natural source is always better.
#6. Hummus alleviates anemia
Yet another compound both the chickpea and sesame are high in is iron. Anemia is basically a depletion of the body’s iron stacks, which are found in the blood. Consuming hummus will help restore your correct iron levels and reduce your anemia, in case you have it. If not, it will help you prevent it.
#7. Hummus is a wonderful substitute for unwholesome foods
Apart from all the other health benefits of hummus, it also aids you to stay away from junk food. For example, you can use hummus instead of mayonnaise if you feel the need to dip your veggies or your roasted potatoes into something. Remember that mayonnaise, no matter how good it tastes, it’s essentially eggs and oil, so it’s both fattening and dangerous to your health.
Another good idea is to thin out hummus using water or even vegetable or chicken broth until it’s runny enough to be used as salad dressing. It’s perfect instead of oil, sour cream or yogurt-based dressings. It also replaces ranch dressing and every other kind of sauce you feel the need to dip bread or chips in. The health benefits of hummus will be immediate once you give up the bad fats and embrace its good ones.
#8. Hummus balances out sugar levels in the blood
One problem almost all of us struggle with every day is the sugar level in our blood. We are all aware we need to control it as best as we can because unguarded sugar levels lead to both short and long-term serious problems.
Seeing as hummus is rich in protein, it gives you a feeling of satiety for far longer than other foods. Actually, as far as feeling full is concerned, hummus is, probably, only surpassed by avocado. Feeling fuller for far longer than after any type of meal will naturally make you stop craving sweets and stop snacking.
Added value here – without all the snacking and munching you’ll definitely lose some pounds.
#9. Hummus inspires people to eat healthier altogether
Researchers have conducted quite a few studies on this matter and, funnily enough, it’s true. Among the health benefits of hummus is also the fact that it leads you to try other healthy foods as well, and on a daily basis no less.
Hummus is part of the so-called Mediterranean diet, on the healthiest out there. Not to mention how tasty everything on that list is! It’s a diet that proposes followers to eat smaller portions of food, consume much more vegetables and fruits, as much hummus as they can, shovel down seafood, and tops everything off with healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. Therefore, it’s no wonder this diet works magic both on the body and the mind.
The studies we mentioned show how hummus, via it deliciousness, inspires people to try the rest of the Mediterranean diet as well.
#10. Antioxidants galore
The list of amazing compounds the chickpea has is not over yet because it’s also very rich in antioxidants. They work by reducing the damage oxidants produce in our systems. This will ultimately contribute to your overall health, and it make for an incredible natural remedy. You will not have to take any supplements or pills to fix your oxidants problems if you go for the fantastic health benefits of hummus.
#11. Hummus stops allergies
Hummus is free. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free that is. Should you suffer from any of these allergies, you will be happy to learn that you can eat hummus without any problem whatsoever. Moreover, since you can mix it with so many spices, herbs, and other ingredients, you can turn it into basically any type of food you want.
However, when it comes to allergies, make sure to check the label if you buy hummus from the store. Different producers make this tasty paste following different recipes. Therefore, read the ingredients and make sure you are not allergic to anything in it, such as the tahini, or any other additional components they might have used.
When you have food allergies, the best solution is to make your own hummus at home. It’s not difficult at all. All you need is to do is boil the chickpeas, throw them in the blender with sesame paste, olive oil, garlic, and lemon and you’re done. All the health benefits of hummus right on your kitchen counter.
#12. Hummus is versatile
The fact that it’s so versatile turns hummus from superfood into the king of all superfoods. Simply because it can be combined with other superfoods, thusly making every meal ridiculously healthy, tasty, and boosting.
Here are a few examples of things you can combine hummus with.
- Avocado – mix these two creamy ingredients together and add a dash of spicy cayenne pepper to really give it a kick. You won’t be able to put down the fork. For an even tastier dish, roast the avocado first in aluminum foil, until it’s soft and rich, and has that wonderful roasted nuts flavor.
- Sweet potato – the incomparable taste of sweet potatoes will go perfectly well with the slight bitterness hummus has. Also, when it comes to health benefits of hummus, what better way to make use of them than to mix them with those of yams?
- Jalapeno and cilantro – This combination will make for a spicy dish that will have your motors running and give you energy for the entire day. Cilantro is rich in Vitamin C, so there’s no going wrong with this recipe.
- Green chili and lime – Most store-bought hummus dishes already have some lemon juice in them, but feel free to add a lot more. It will only bring out its natural earthy flavor. Combined with green chili, it will warm you up on a cold winter’s day.
- Coconut and curry – given all the rage in the past couple of years surrounding coconut oil, you probably know by now that coconut is yet another wonder-food you should introduce into your diet as soon as possible. Whether fresh, in the form of coconut water, juice, milk, or coconut shavings, it promotes great skin and hair. Combine it with the even healthier hummus and some delicious curry powder and taste Thailand on a plate.
- Tzatziki – this recipe will render a hybrid made up of hummus and the refreshing tzatziki. You can make it at home, by mixing cucumber with yogurt, dill, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Add a good dollop of hummus and you’ll see what Mediterranean food is really about.
- Sun-dried tomatoes and basil – Sun-dried tomatoes might just be one of the most delicious things man has ever thought of. Add some fresh basil leaves into the combination, along with some toasted pine-nut seeds, if you want. This spin on the traditional hummus tastes like Southern Italy.
Nutritional Information About Hummus
Hummus is a great food to eat because it contains large amounts of minerals and vitamins.
A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of hummus provides the following:
- Calories: 166
- Fat: 9.6 grams
- Protein: 7.9 grams
- Carbs: 14.3 grams
- Fiber: 6.0 grams
- Manganese: 39% of the RDI
- Copper: 26% of the RDI
- Folate: 21% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 18% of the RDI
- Iron: 14% of the RDI
- Zinc: 12% of the RDI
- Thiamin: 12% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 10% of the RDI
- Potassium: 7% of the RDI
(list credit: healthline)
Hummus is a wonderful source of plant-based protein. There are 7.9 grams of plant-based protein in each serving of hummus.
With this in mind, hummus is an excellent food for people who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Protein consumption is essential for immune function, optimal growth, and recovery.
Hummus also includes folate, iron, B vitamins, and phosphorus. All of these parts of hummus are very important for vegetarians and vegans as these are things that they may not get enough of in their diet.
From the Levant to the busy streets of Ancient Rome to Thailand, hummus is one fantastic dish that can truly take you everywhere you wish to go. However, even if it is so spectacular in taste, especially when combined with other ingredients, this is not its primary quality. Apart from not having any side effects, the health benefits of hummus are so vast that you really have no excuse for not starting to eat it right this instant.
Clara was born and grew up in Great Britain, and although she’s now happier with the weather in North Carolina where she resides with her partner, she does miss the ubiquitous teacakes. She graduated from a master’s in literature and worked for about 5 years at local news magazines as a reporter.