Snacking has been one of the pillars for weight management and weight loss today. Many health coaches and nutritionists suggest snacking throughout the day in order to facilitate a healthy lifestyle. More snacking means less cravings and better appetite control. In time, it can also mean total portion control and a smaller stomach altogether. However, not all snacks fare equal in the snacking game, as some are much healthier and better than others. Fruits and vegetables are still the best options for snacks; however, not everyone likes the idea of constant celery sticks and carrot sticks. One way to change things up a bit in the snack department is by adding hummus to the diet.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern dish that has gained popularity throughout the world. Originating from the Eastern Mediterranean and Egyptian regions, basic hummus is made out of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, mashed up with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The result is a creamy and tangy mixture that is oftentimes used as a dip for vegetables, crackers, bread, and more. Different regions serve hummus in a variety of ways; some use hummus as a common part of meals and dishes, while others serve hummus as appetizers or snacks. The dish has also been commercialized and can be found fresh, jarred, or canned in different markets. Hummus has always been thought of as a healthy snack or accompaniment to any meals. It is, after all, made out of healthy ingredients. However, there’s more to hummus than meets the eye, and its benefits go far beyond just being a healthy snack. Here are some of the ways hummus is healthy for you.
Perfect for Weight Management
The main ingredient of hummus, chickpeas, happens to be rich in fiber. This makes hummus a fiber-rich food as well, making it impact weight loss tremendously. Fiber plays an essential role in the digestive system. It helps the body hold on to all the nutrients it needs, while it also facilitates the intestines with gathering and disposing of solid wastes in the body. In addition, fiber helps the stomach stay full for longer periods of time. Hummus helps this process along, which means that eating hummus will only accentuate the effects and purpose of snacking for the body. Hummus also contains a good amount of protein that’s important in muscle maintenance and weight management as well.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Hummus contains a hefty dose of antioxidants that help lower bad cholesterol. These antioxidants are known as isoflavones, and they help stabilize insulin levels that cause the liver to produce cholesterol. Isoflavones also has other benefits as well. They have been known to protect against certain types of cancer, prevent heart disease, fight against osteoporosis, and even help women in handling menopausal symptoms. Besides these benefits, hummus can also provide all the other benefits of antioxidants including better skin, better eyes, and better health altogether. Antioxidants are known to fight off the free radicals that cause dangerous oxidation in the body’s cells. Regular hummus consumption can increase the antioxidants in the body to fight against free radicals.
Maintain Blood Sugar
The digestion of various beans and starches takes a longer process in the body compared to other foods. Hummus is considered a complex carbohydrate that provides the body with longer-lasting energy. Instead of spiking the blood sugar levels in the body, hummus maintains a slow and steady release of energy, keeping stabilized blood sugar levels before they drop to be spiked again. This is truly what makes hummus a great snack, as it does what needs to be done in the body in between meals. Hummus also helps the body tolerate glucose better, as it typically fares low in the glycemic index.
Anti-Anemia and Anti-Clotting
Hummus is also rich in vegetable-based iron. Iron plays a variety of roles in the body, and a one-cup serving of hummus can cover for more than 25% of the recommended daily intake of iron. Furthermore, to help the body absorb all this iron, the chickpeas in hummus provide just enough vitamin C. Enabling this healthy process in the body helps it fight against anemia. In addition, hummus is also rich in both vitamins E and K that have properties to naturally thin blood. This helps the body in preventing blood clots that can cause a number of dangerous and even life-threatening problems including heart attacks.
Apart from keeping the heart and other parts of the body healthy, hummus also shows much potential as an anti-cancer food. Folate is a B vitamin that has been researched to show anti-cancer properties, and foods that are rich in folate have been known to reduce the risk for some types of cancer such as colorectal cancer. Hummus can provide up to 36% of the recommended daily intake of folate in just one serving. Research has also shown that healthy doses of folate in the body can help in the prevention of carcinogenesis, the actual formation of normal cells into cancer cells. Eating hummus in moderation can provide this healthy benefit.
There are many ways to prepare and consume hummus, and any way it is eaten, hummus is beneficial to the overall health of the body. Hummus is a versatile food that is not only a great snack but is also a terrific main dish ingredient. When it comes to snacking, there are only a few snacks out there that can boast the same benefits that hummus can. It has plenty of vitamins and antioxidants that can boost anyone’s health even in one serving. The important matter when it comes to snacking, even with hummus, is that moderation is key. Much like everything else, even too much hummus can have negative effects. For optimal health, enjoy hummus regularly but in moderate amounts.
- Ibrahim, L. (2006). “Hummus, a Palestinian Staple”. Institute for Middle East Understanding.
- Murphy, J. (2008). “On the Hummus Hunt in Israel”. Food and Wine.
- Ottolenghi, Y. (2010). “The perfect hummus debate”. The Guardian.