Hummus has been our go-to snack for a long time now, and not just because of the pitta bread we pile it onto. It's delicious just as it is, letting the creamy chickpeas and deep flavour of tahini do all the talking, but we really like experimenting with new and more unusual versions, too. You can even turn it into a dessert if you're feeling particularly daring. Hummus is naturally vegan and gluten-free, which makes it a brilliant crowd-pleaser to serve at parties. But because it's very, very easy to get through an entire tub in one go, we got curious about how healthy hummus really is. So we asked an expert to break it down for us.
"Hummus can be a great snack option," said Elliot Moore, lifestyle health adviser from Bupa UK. "It's rich in low glycaemic index carbohydrates, meaning it steadily releases glucose and keeps your blood sugar/glucose levels even. Its primary ingredient is chickpeas, [which] provide a good source of protein — with around eight grams of protein per 100 grams of hummus." That steady release of energy is really good for us. It means our energy levels won't dip in the middle of the day, or worse, totally crash like they do after we've snacked on a midmorning chocolate bar. Hummus is especially good for sustaining energy for long workouts, which means it's a brilliant snack option for gym days or even just days when your schedule is full and you're dashing about.
However delicious it is, not all hummus is made equal. While shop-bought hummus might be the easier option, it's likely to have more oil and fat in it than a homemade alternative. "Even if it's labelled as 'reduced-fat,' shop-bought hummus can still contain a relatively high levels of fat," said Elliot. "Solid foods, like hummus, can only claim to be low-fat if they contain less than three grams of fat per 100 grams. Two tablespoons of hummus has 50 calories and 2.8 grams of fat, but shop-bought hummus may contain a lot more." The lesson? Always check the label.
If you usually get your hummus ready-made, maybe it's time to try whizzing up your own batch at home? "This way, you know exactly what ingredients are in the dip and you can adapt the recipe for appropriate portion sizes." There are things you can do to make your hummus even healthier, too, and that includes what you use to scoop it up. Of course you could switch over to cucumber and carrot sticks, but if you're not quite ready to give up your bread just yet (we understand entirely), you can always opt for wholewheat pittas so you're adding whole grains into your diet without even trying. Hummus can be a really healthy snack option that's packed full of energy, just don't get caught out by sneaky ready-made options.