Hummus is a traditional Middle Eastern food that has found its way into many American homes. Made of garbanzo beans, lemon juice, sesame tahini, garlic, salt and olive oil, hummus is a good source of nutrition and is easy to use as a dip or a spread. Hummus is good for the heart, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, helps with weight loss, and even prevents blood clots and anemia. This commonly found food is now used by about 20 percent of American homes, according to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. Sales of hummus totaled more than $250 million in 2013 and are rising.
How to Use Hummus
Hummus paste can be used as a spread on crackers, bagels or vegetables such as celery. It can also be used as a dip for vegetables for parties or tailgating. It can be used in recipes with chicken, fish or potatoes, and it’s also good when added to sandwiches. Hummus is traditionally used in the Middle East alongside rice.
Health Benefits of Hummus
1. It can boost fiber intake and weight loss.
Hummus is a vegetarian source of fiber, protein and healthy fats. Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are the main ingredient of hummus. The fiber in garbanzo beans lowers cholesterol. Because the fiber is filling, it also helps reduce appetite, which can be helpful to those trying to lose weight. High-fiber diets are also known to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cholesterol levels. The fiber also encourages healthy gut flora.
2. It can reduce the risk of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes risk is also reduced when fiber is added to the diet. Because hummus is made up of a complex carbohydrate, digestion takes a long time; this prevents blood sugar levels from suddenly increasing. Research has shown that eating one cup of beans every day for three months improves glucose tolerance. This research, published in 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, also pointed out that legume consumption leads to a decreased risk of heart attack.
3. It can help those with anemia.
Anemia can be alleviated by eating garbanzo beans because they are one of the few vegetables that contain a large quantity of iron. One cup of garbanzo beans has 25 percent of the recommended daily requirement of iron. The legumes also contain vitamin C. Although iron is best absorbed from meat sources, the vitamin C in the beans helps boost iron absorption.
4. It can help prevent cancer.
The folate content of hummus helps lower the risk of colon cancer. People who have low folate levels in their blood have been found to have more incidences of cancer. Folates encourage healthy cell division. Nevertheless, high intakes of folate could be harmful to those with cancer, so moderation is advised. One cup of hummus contains 36 percent of the body’s daily requirement of folate.
5. It can reduce your cholesterol levels.
A type of antioxidant called isoflavones can lower cholesterol when consumed daily, and these antioxidants are found in garbanzo beans. Because hummus also stabilizes blood sugar, the insulin in the liver is lower, thereby reducing the liver’s production of cholesterol. It should be noted that eating hummus with high-carb foods such as bread or chips will diminish the low glycemic effect that hummus has on its own.
6. It has benefits for cardiovascular disease and blood clotting.
Garbanzo beans are high in vitamins E and K. Both of these vitamins have been shown to thin the blood and reduce the risk of blood clots. For people who are taking warfarin, eating hummus can reverse the effects of taking too much of the drug.