Heart-Healthy Hummus A Guilt-Free Indulgence
It’s no secret that the salsa and dip aisle in the average American grocery store is laden with temptations that many find hard to overcome. When faced with options from a truckload of salsa brands, french onion dip brands, bean dip brands, and so on all in the same section, it can be easy to convince yourself that you’ll eat the dips with veggies instead of chips to make them “healthy.” There’s also no denying the fact that vegetables are often more palatable as a snack if paired with another flavor, making it even harder to keep those calorie-count killers out of your shopping cart. Still, it’s important to keep an eye on sodium, sugar, and fat contents to make sure that you aren’t negating the benefits of the vegetables by adding the dip. Thankfully, there is one option that stands out from the rest as a truly healthy option: hummus.
What is hummus, exactly? On the most basic level, it is a blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini, and oil. Its history can be traced back to the 13th century in the Middle East, and chickpeas (the main ingredient) are thought to be one of the earliest cultivated crops. Today, the original hummus recipe has been diversified to suit virtually any palate, and the number of competing brands available in the grocery store is beginning to rival that of salsa brands.
There are very good reasons for hummus’s popularity. According to data from 2005, those who regularly consumed hummus scored much higher on the Healthy Eating Index, had smaller average waist circumferences, and had lower BMIs. Taking in the recommended 1.5 cups of beans per week helps control weight, reduces the risk of stroke, and results in a 22% lower risk of CHD. Still, despite the obvious benefits, an estimated 9 out of 10 Americans don’t eat the recommended number of vegetables/legumes per day. This is where hummus shines: just 2 spoonfuls per day fulfills your bean recommendation for the week, and you can take full advantage of all the different flavors of hummus that are available to achieve this effect. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, you can pass by the wall of salsa brands and load up on the hummus dip of your choice. Do a quick check to make sure the main ingredient is chickpeas to maximize the health benefits. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can search the internet for easy hummus recipes to make yourself. Either way, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in this treat!