Health-conscious people frequently wonder whether various foods are healthy. After all, it’s good to make the foods you’re eating worthwhile. Is hummus healthy? It’s found in virtually every North American grocery store, yet not everyone knows the answer to this question.
Many factors go into whether a food is healthy. The amount of sugar, trans fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals all contribute to whether something can be considered healthy overall. So, is hummus healthy? Find out whether it is and use that information to decide whether it deserves a place in your fridge.
What Is Hummus?
Hummus is a food common throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Greece. It’s a creamy paste used as a dip or a spread. It consists of cooked and mashed chickpeas, ground sesame seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The name for the dish comes directly from the Arabic word for chickpeas.
Hummus has been prepared as early as the 1200’s, possibly even earlier. Today, it has spread in popularity across North America and Europe. Historians attribute hummus’ explosion in popularity in the United States to the Lebanese Civil War. This war took place from 1975 to 1990. It resulted in many people from the Eastern Mediterranean region emigrating to the United States. Migrants took their love of hummus with them to America and popularized it as a food item.
Hummus is actually quite nutritious as far as dips and spreads go. It’s high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Items That Contain Hummus
Common ways that hummus is eaten include:
- As a dip with flatbread (the most traditional way);
- Along non-traditional foods like chips, crackers, and pretzels;
- Spreading it on sandwiches;
- As a spread on other foods like toast and wraps;
- In non-traditional homemade recipes. For example, you could add hummus to deviled eggs, soup, or mashed potatoes.
Hummus usually goes as an appetizer or as a snack which comes on the table alongside alcoholic drinks. The way in which North Americans sometimes use hummus in main dishes as a spread for sandwiches and the like is not a traditional use.
Outside its use as a dip and spread, there aren’t really any common foods that contain hummus as an ingredient. It mostly stands as a dish on its own. The only time a food will use hummus as an ingredient is if you make it that way yourself.
The Dangers of Hummus
- It Is easy to overeat hummus: Hummus is usually eaten as a dip as a snack or appetizer. If you don’t keep an eye on how much hummus you’re eating, it’s very easy to eat too much. Even though hummus is nutrient rich, it has 102 calories in only a quarter cup. Is hummus healthy? You bet! Just not when you eat too much. Avoid overeating hummus by measuring out one serving of hummus and putting the rest away. Eating it right out of the container makes it easier to eat more than you planned.
- Hummus is often a vehicle for less-healthy foods: This is a danger indirectly related to hummus, rather than directly related. As mentioned earlier, hummus is most frequently eaten as a dip for pita, crackers, and chips. These refined grain products are often quite unhealthy. This is especially if you eat them in large quantities as it’s easy to do when snacking. Avoid letting hummus lure you into eating unhealthy refined grains by making sure to eat it with whole grain foods only. Or, skip the unnecessary carbs altogether and use hummus as a dip for fresh vegetables like baby carrots, broccoli, and snap peas.
Are There Benefits for Hummus?
Is hummus healthy? Despite the caveat that you should use portion control when eating hummus, it’s definitely a healthy dish. One quarter cup of hummus, a typical appetizer-size serving, contains a wide array of nutrients.
The question is hummus healthy calls for more details to answer. A quarter cup will contain six grams of fat, only one gram of which is saturated fat, and none of which is trans fat. One quarter cup also contains four grams of fiber and five grams of protein. Some of the vitamins and minerals it contains are:
- 13% DV folate;
- 8% DV thiamin;
- 6% DV vitamin B6;
- 16% DV copper;
- 8% DV iron;
- 24% DV manganese;
- 11% DV magnesium;
- 11% DV phosphorus;
- 4% DV potassium;
- 25% DV selenium;
- 8% DV zinc.
Hummus is a great source of many nutrients, especially essential minerals. This, combined with the protein and fiber content, mean it is one of the most healthy dips available. Hummus is especially healthy if you compare it to other popular dips like ranch dressing and cheese dip.
Share this article with your health-minded friends. Do you find that hummus fits in well into a healthy diet? Share your opinions in the comments!
The images are from depositphotos.com.