Is hummus healthy – and can it help with weight loss?

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  • If you’re a fan of a hummus-chip-and-dip scenario, you might be wondering whether hummus is actually healthy.

    We could happily eat it every day, but is hummus healthy? After all, it’s easy to dip your way through an entire pot of the stuff, whether it be with vegetable crudités, pitta bread or a nacho crisp. It’s safe to say we’re just slightly obsessed.

    Plus, with so many varieties, it can be hard to tell which hummus is best (or worst) for your diet.  And, perhaps a controversial opinion but it trumps salsa and tzatziki and is considerably cheaper than guacamole.

    Hummus, which originated in the Middle East can be used in a number of ways, not just on a platter with a bunch of dipping bits. It can be spread on toast instead of butter, or used to fill out a hot jacket potato. It can even be added as a spread to burgers, or made into a pasta sauce. Yes, the possibilities are endless!

    But what exactly is this  creamy concoction and is it providing us with any health benefits?

    What is hummus made of?

    It’s chickpeas, we get it, but what else? Nutritionist Laura MacDonald explains: ‘Hummus is made from chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini – a paste made from sesame seeds. Many people add herbs or spices such as paprika or cumin.’

    This moreish dip also contains all three macronutrients; carbohydrate, protein and fat, making it a pretty well balanced addition to our daily diet. However, the amount of protein hummus contains isn’t particularly high so if you’re including it within a meal, it may be wise to have it alongside another protein source.

    What’s more, hummus is gluten free and usually vegan, although you may find some shop bought ones contain yoghurt.

    Want to make your own hummus? Here’s our simple hummus recipe OR if you want to up your gourmet style…

    Samer Chamoun is a chef and owner of  The Lebanese Bakery. He explains that for their perfect hummus, they start with soaking the dried chickpeas over night in tap water, adding 5g of bicarbonate soda per 1000g. ‘This prevents the calcium in the water from sticking pectin in the pea shells together and it encourages the pectin to separate which creates softening effect and that makes our hummus silky smooth.’

    ‘Then in the morning we drain the water, tip the chickpeas into a pot and cover with fresh water. It takes around 50 minutes to cook and the key is to skim the surface while simmering to keep the water clear. Once cooked, the chickpeas need to be cool, so after draining we run under cold water while adding some ice.

    ‘These cool chickpeas go into a food processor with tahini, lemon juice and citric acid. Once all the ingredients combine into a silky smooth paste (not overmixed like a mousse) we finish the mix by slowly adding sunflower oil and sprinkle of salt.’

    Serve with some Lebanese flat bread and impress guests, guaranteed!

    Is hummus healthy for weight loss?

    As mentioned, thanks to its balance of protein, fat and complex carbohydrate, hummus is a healthy weight loss food when consumed in moderation.

    Laura adds that one tablespoon can have anywhere between 30-60 calories depending on the brand.

    We did a quick little check online, and one quarter of a pot of Tesco Houmous provides 115 calories.

    Of course, if you opt for the reduced fat variety, the calories will be slightly lower. The Tesco Reduced Fat Houmous provides 84 calories per quarter of a pot. And from our hummus-based research, the reduced fat option actually contains MORE chickpeas, so could be a better option all round!

    The health benefits of hummus

    Laura tells us: ‘Hummus provides many nutrients; plant protein, healthy fats, fibre which supports gut health, and it has a low glycaemic load which means it can help to keep blood glucose levels stable. This is important in energy balance and can help to reduce sugar cravings.’

    It’s all about that fibre, and hummus packs in a healthy punch of fibre, which can help to keep us full. In fact, 100g of the stuff can contain about 4g of fibre which is a nice little contributor to our recommended 30g of fibre per day!

    Is it bad to eat hummus everyday?

    Laura reveals: ‘Hummus can be part of your daily diet as long as it is eaten in moderation and the rest of your diet contains a wide variety of foods.’

    So, as with most foods, moderation is the key however there are certainly no qualms with eating some of this chickpea goodness everyday.

    Carrot sticks and toasted pitta anyone?!