Is hummus healthy?

Depending on a person’s health goals and dietary needs, hummus can be a healthy food.

Some research suggests that labeling foods as “good,” “bad,” or healthy promotes disordered eating and unhealthy attitudes toward food. Instead, it is important to think about how hummus fits into a person’s diet and whether or not they enjoy eating it.

Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional content and health benefits of hummus, including some recipe ideas.

Hummus is an ancient Middle Eastern recipe made from pureed chickpeas. It usually contains additional flavoring agents — typically tahini, lemon juice, salt, and an oil.

Many types of hummus include additional ingredients, such as red pepper, ground garlic, or nuts.

The nutritional content of hummus depends on the specific brand a person buys, so it is important to check the label. Some products contain much more sodium than others.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical 100-gram (g) serving of hummus will usually contain:

  • 214 calories
  • 10.71 g of protein
  • 8.93 g of fat
  • 28.57 g of carbohydrates
  • 7.1 g of fiber
  • 3.57 g of sugar
  • 71 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 2.57 of iron
  • 607 mg of sodium

This makes hummus a moderate fat food, so it can be part of a low fat diet. It is also a relatively high protein food, especially for people who follow vegetarian diets.

It is high in sodium, however, potentially posing a risk to people following low sodium diets.

People who eat much more than a single serving may exceed the recommended daily sodium limit of under 2,300 mg per day.

Hummus offers a number of potential health benefits, including:

A nutritionally dense diet

Hummus is high in several important nutrients, including fiber and protein. A 2016 study explains that people who eat chickpeas or hummus eat more fiber, unsaturated fat, antioxidant vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

This may be due, in part, to the presence of these ingredients in hummus. However, the study did not establish a causal connection, so researchers do not know if hummus causes people to eat healthily or if people who eat healthily tend to eat more hummus.

That said, a 2020 study emphasizes that including hummus in the diet may promote healthy eating. Hummus contains a number of healthy ingredients, especially compared with other popular snack foods.

This may help people better manage their weight and diet, potentially improving heart health and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Increased protein intake

Hummus is relatively high in protein compared with many other vegetarian and vegan foods, so consuming it may make it easier for a person to get enough protein.

This can be especially helpful for pregnant or lactating people, adults over the age of 50 years, and other groups who need to increase their protein intake.

Healthy blood sugar

Hummus is relatively low in sugar, especially when compared with other popular snack products.

Eating fiber-rich foods such as hummus may help a person feel fuller and support better control of blood sugar. This could help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and help people who already have diabetes control their blood sugar.

A 2020 study of 39 adults points to the blood sugar benefits of hummus. The researchers found that participants who had an afternoon snack of hummus had reductions in blood sugar of about 5%.

Appetite control

The study above also suggests that hummus may help control appetite. For people trying to lose or maintain weight, eating hummus may make doing so easier.

The researchers found that hummus consumption correlated with a 20% reduction in snacking compared with people who had no snack, as well as a 70% reduction in hunger.

It is important to note that one of the study authors is also on the scientific advisory board of a hummus company.

Hummus is fairly high in sodium, and some commercial formulas may be quite high in sodium.

Sodium is a vital nutrient, but high sodium intake correlates with a higher risk of high blood pressure. Over time, this can increase the risk of developing heart disease.

The risk of getting too much sodium from hummus is higher among people with high sodium diets and those who eat much more than a serving.

The ingredients in prepackaged hummus products vary. For people with allergies, it is important to not only check the ingredients but also to read the package to assess the risk of cross-contamination.

As with any food, eating too much hummus can negatively affect health and prevent a person from eating a varied diet rich in other foods and nutrients.

Additionally, people sometimes eat hummus alongside foods that are fairly low in nutritional value, such as tortilla chips. This can increase the number of calories associated with a hummus snack and may also increase sodium intake.

A basic hummus recipe includes the following ingredients:

  • canned chickpeas
  • tahini
  • garlic
  • lemon juice
  • ground cumin
  • olive oil

People can also choose to add salt to the recipe, but this may not be ideal for people wishing to reduce their salt intake. Below are some alternative ingredients that a person may wish to add to create more flavor.

Simply puree all ingredients, except for the chickpeas, until they form a smooth paste. Add the chickpeas, then puree the mixture until it is smooth.

Some people may prefer to make hummus with fresh chickpeas. To do this, simply cook the chickpeas after draining them, then puree them along with the other hummus ingredients.

A person may also wish to try adding other ingredients to the hummus to change its flavor or as a garnish. Some options include:

  • crushed red peppers
  • roasted red peppers
  • garlic cloves
  • onions
  • roasted pine nuts
  • sliced jalapenos
  • sun dried tomatoes

Hummus can be a part of a healthy diet.

There are many ways to obtain the nutrients in hummus, however, so people who do not like it can try other high protein foods, such as nuts or lentils.

People who are concerned about the effects of their diet on their health should talk with a doctor or dietitian about healthy eating options.