Is Hummus Good for You? 5 Health Benefits You Should Know
It takes only five minutes and five ingredients to make this savoury dip. Here's why you should try it, according to a registered dietitian.
Versatile and tasty, hummus is a popular dip made from cooked chickpeas blended with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds), and spices. This nutty and creamy spread is a favorite among health enthusiasts because it tastes amazing, has lots of nutrients, and can easily be added to your favorite savory and sweet meals.
It’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and perfect for vegans or vegetarians because it doesn’t contain animal products.
Because hummus has been around so long in so many cultures, its exact origins are uncertain. Many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries say that hummus belongs to them, while some historians date the dish to 13th century Egypt.
Wherever hummus came from, over the past 10 years, its popularity has skyrocketed in the United States. According to reports from Market Watch, the hummus market is currently valued at more than $800 million dollars and is expected to reach over $1.02 billion dollars by the end of 2026.
Hummus is popular because it’s delicious—but is it really healthy? As a nutritionist, I can confidently say that traditionally prepared hummus eaten in moderate portions is a great healthy staple.
From its rich collection of nutrients to its hefty fibre punch, there are plenty of healthful reasons you should add hummus to your diet. Here’s everything you need to know about the health benefits of hummus.
(Related: 10 Foods with More Fibre Than Broccoli)
Hummus is rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients
Nutrient density refers to the amount of vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, and healthy fats in foods, in relation to the amount of calories. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes are among the most nutrient-dense foods.
Legumes, like the chickpeas found in hummus, are especially healthy because unlike fruits and vegetables they are also a great source of protein. (Check out these other vegan protein sources.) Chickpeas are also an excellent source of health-promoting phytonutrients, including phytic acid, sterols, tannins, carotenoids, and isoflavones, according to the British Journal of Nutrition.
Basically, legumes have the best of both animal and plant-based nutrient-dense foods, and hummus is even more nutritious because it has heart-healthy fats from olive oil and tahini.
Here’s the nutrition profile of a typical serving of hummus (about four tablespoons), including the percentage of the daily value (DV) for each nutrient per serving:
Protein: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams
Fibre: 4 grams
Folate: 50 micrograms (12 percent DV)
Iron: 2 mg (8 percent DV)
Calcium: 43 (12 percent DV)
Magnesium: 43 mg (12 percent DV)
Phosphorus: 106 mg (12 percent DV)
Potassium: 137 mg (4 percent DV)
Copper: 0.4 mg (16 percent DV)
Manganese: 0.4 mg (24 percent DV)
A study in the Nutrition & Food Sciences journal found that people who eat hummus tend to eat more fruits and vegetables overall compared to people who don’t eat hummus, which means that eating more hummus can potentially help you eat more fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t get more nutrient-dense than that.
Hummus is a high fibre food
High fibre intake is associated with a decreased risk of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Eating a high-fibre diet is also beneficial for supporting a healthy digestive system and maintaining a healthy weight, according to research in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Unfortunately, most Canadians are falling short in meeting their dietary fibre needs. According to Health Canada, women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day, but most Canadians are only getting about half.
Eating more legumes is a great way to boost your fibre intake because they have more dietary fibre than any other vegetable. Adding more hummus into your diet is, therefore, a great strategy to help meet your daily fibre goals. In fact, eating just 4 tablespoons of hummus per day provides approximately 2 cups of legumes and about 25 grams of dietary fibre per week, per research in Nutrients.
Hummus supports a healthy weight
Research in Nutrition Reviews found that high fibre diets may be especially beneficial for weight control. Since fibre is a nondigestible carbohydrate, it helps you feel full without the additional calories. Fibre also slows digestion, which makes you feel fuller faster for longer, decreasing appetite and calorie intake, two key factors in managing your weight.
Because hummus is a high-fibre food, it may also help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. The research in the study from Nutrition & Food Sciences found that people who ate more chickpeas and hummus were 53 percent less likely to be obese, and had a lower body mass index (BMI) and a smaller waist circumference compared to non-hummus consumers.
Moreover, a dietary intervention trial in Clinical Nutrition found that people who followed a high-fibre, low-calorie diet for eight weeks lost more weight compared to those who ate a low-calorie diet alone.
Hummus balances blood sugar and insulin
Regulating blood sugar is key to preventing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Typically, eating high glycemic index (GI) foods like white bread and sugar causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Interestingly, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating hummus or chickpeas with high GI foods like white bread and pizza actually helps to minimize the spike in blood sugar that typically occurs after eating these foods.
Researchers suspect that the high fibre and healthy fat content of hummus may be especially helpful in improving blood glucose and insulin response by slowing carb absorption.
Hummus may help prevent cardiovascular disease
It’s well established that soluble fibre helps decrease total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol, two key biomarkers of cardiovascular disease, as per the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases.
The chickpeas found in hummus are an excellent source of soluble fibre and are therefore beneficial in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease. Traditionally prepared hummus is made with olive oil, which increases HDL “good” cholesterol and has antioxidant activity that decreases inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, according to a meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Nutrition.
The bottom line: Try hummus if you like a tasty dip that also delivers nutrients
It’s important to keep in mind that commercial processing of hummus may alter the nutrition profile found in hummus.
To reap the most health benefits of hummus, I recommend making your own or buying commercially prepared products that contain the same ingredients as traditionally prepared hummus—chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon, and spices.
You can easily add more hummus to your diet as a dip with raw veggies, spread it on whole-wheat toast instead of mayo, or add it to your favorite salad dressing instead of oil. You can even experiment with using hummus instead of butter for sweet dishes like brownies and chocolate fudge. The possibilities are endless.