The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate for increasing vegetable intake and replacing energy-dense foods with those that are nutrient-dense. Most Americans do not eat enough vegetables, and particularly legumes, each day, despite their well-established benefits for health. Traditional hummus is a nutrient-dense dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Consumers of chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron as compared to non-consumers. Hummus consumers have also been shown to have higher Healthy Eating Index 2005 (HEI-2005) scores. This may be, in part, due to hummus’ higher Naturally Nutrient Rich (NNR) score as compared to other dips and spreads. Emerging research suggests that chickpeas and hummus may play a beneficial role in weight management and glucose and insulin regulation, as well as have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Raw or cooked chickpeas and hummus also contain dietary bioactives such as phytic acid, sterols, tannins, carotenoids, and other polyphenols such as isoflavones, whose benefits may extend beyond basic nutrition requirements of humans. With chickpeas as its primary ingredient, hummus—and especially when paired with vegetables and/or whole grains—is a nutritious way for Americans to obtain their recommended servings of legumes. This manuscript reviews the nutritional value and health benefits of chickpeas and hummus and explores how these foods may help improve the nutrient profiles of meals.
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