Hummus: A Nutrient-Rich Superfood with Ayurvedic and Western Health Perspectives
Hummus is an incredibly popular Middle Eastern dip and spread. It is super nutritious and packed with plant-based protein with its blend of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (ground sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
Not only is hummus delicious, but it is also versatile, packed with nutrients, and according to the National Institutes of Health, has been linked to many impressive health and nutritional benefits.
Eastern View: Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas and maybe better known when made into hummus, have been the mainstay of the Mediterranean and Indian diets for thousands of years. It has only been recently that the health benefits been more fully understood. Garbanzo beans are one of the most common beans in Ayurveda because they are easy to digest compared to other beans.
Most beans have a very hard shell composed of hard-to-digest anti-nutrients that require soaking, par-boiling, slow cooking, and a good, strong digestive system. As Vatas have a sensitive digestive system, it’s important for you to eat easily digestible foods.
Ayurveda always puts a strong emphasis on foods that are easy to digest and good for the intestines. The two top, easy-to-digest beans are garbanzo beans and split yellow mung beans, which we use in our Cleanses either alone or in the Ayurvedic superfood, kitchari.
Western View: As with all beans, chickpeas are LOADED with fiber and high in protein – but garbanzo beans have some special nutrients on board such as quercetin, which supports healthy circulation and immunity, and chlorogenic acid which is the antioxidant that has made coffee famous. Vatas are affected the most by poor circulation and immune problems.
Chickpeas are also rich in vitamins like folate, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, beta-carotene, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Chickpeas are also an excellent source of health-promoting fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acids, which are the main ingredients in olive oil. It is these fatty acids that are important to keep you grounded, stable, and constipation-free.
Garbanzo beans are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber acts as roughage to scrub the intestines and support healthy, efficient bowel function while feeding beneficial microbes. As you have a tendency towards digestive problems – eating good fiber is key to great gut health. The Journal Nutrients reports that soluble fiber makes the bean a bit slimy and allows it to attach to bile acids in the intestines and escort the bile, cholesterol, and toxins attached to the bile to the toilet.
Garbanzo beans are also rich in resistant starches like oligosaccharides and amylose, which are sugars that are not digested into the small intestine and are delivered to the large intestines where they can feed the good gut bacteria helping to promote great gut health – a plus for anyone who has Vata in them.
The British Medical Journal reported on one study where a group of volunteers were split off into three groups: a high-fat diet, a low-fat diet, and a high-fat diet with garbanzo beans. The group that ate a high-fat diet along with garbanzo beans saw a 15 percent reduction in cholesterol and a significant increase of bile acids (which carry toxins and bad cholesterol) in the stool. The garbanzo-eating group outperformed both the high- and low-fat diet groups. So, go ahead and eat your hummus!
Hummus: Middle Eastern Style
- 14 ounces can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 2 tablespoons filtered water
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil (melted or fractionated)
- 1 garlic clove (crushed)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Himalayan salt (to taste)
- Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
- Blend all the ingredients except the salt and olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Season with salt, transfer to your favorite serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
There’s no one size fits all for what you should eat. If you would like to talk with me about what is the right diet for you, sign up for a complimentary consultation. Just click on the link to my online calendar to find a good time that works for you.