If Hummus Is Your Dip of Choice, Here Are 9 Healthy Reasons to Validate Your Obsession

Pile on the hummus for heart health, bone strength, vitamins, and good digestion.

Consumption of hummus has exploded in the U.S. over the past few years—whereas once upon a time this delicious dip was really only found (in the U.S., at least) in Middle Eastern restaurants and specialty stores. But hummus has become a mainstream staple, and brands like Sabra have popularized a rainbow of flavors and products to help get your hummus fix. And this is excellent news because hummus is very, very good for you.

"Derived from garbanzo beans [also referred to as chickpeas], hummus is a fiber-rich food that's high in plant-based protein and essential minerals," says Lee Cotton, a registered dietitian and founder of Lee Cotton Nutrition. "It's also a versatile dish that's great for dipping and adding flavor to dishes." Dip veggies, pretzels, or pita chips into hummus for the perfect afternoon snack. Serve it with dinner as a healthy, creamy side. Thin it with olive oil and drizzle over salad as a healthier swap for store-bought dressing. Your options for enjoying hummus (and its many nutritious benefits) are unlimited. And best of all, while there are tons of pre-made hummus options available in most grocery stores, this smooth and creamy super spread can easily be whipped up at home in five minutes.

Read on to learn more about the health benefits and nutrition facts of hummus, and how you can incorporate it into your diet for an additional, healthy boost.

Hummus Nutrition and Benefits

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Hummus is a great source of plant-based protein.

"Chickpeas are a plant-based protein source and beneficial for repair and recovery in the body," Cotton says. More specifically, hummus provides close to 8 grams of protein per serving, making it prime for a midday power boost that can help you stave off hunger pangs and avoid overeating throughout the day. (Pair it with broccoli for a powerful, protein-packed punch.)

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It has key vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, folate, zinc, and B vitamins.

"Hummus contains essential minerals such as iron and magnesium," notes Cotton. "It's also a great source of folate (key to the synthesis and repair of DNA), B vitamins, and zinc, the latter of which is beneficial for immune and metabolism function. Folate is a key vitamin."

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Tahini in hummus contains vitamin E.

A good amount of hummus recipes also contain tahini, an ingredient derived from sesame seeds. "Sesame seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and is beneficial in epithelial tissue maintenance," adds Cotton.

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It's full of calcium for strong bones.

On its list of essential minerals is also calcium, which Cotton explains is "essential for strong bones, nerve transmission, and regulation of heart muscle function."

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It provides fiber for gut health.

Hummus is also packed with fiber—almost 1 gram per tablespoon, which helps make your snack or meal more filling and satisfying. "Research indicates that fiber is beneficial for heart health, aids in digestive function, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes," says Cotton.

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It contains heart-healthy fats.

Hummus gets its rich, creamy texture from olive oil, which is a great source of heart-healthy fats. "Studies have shown that those with higher intakes of healthy oils, especially olive oil, have a lower risk of death due to heart disease and other conditions," says Beth Warren, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian and founder of Beth Warren Nutrition. "Another study found that for every 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of extra virgin olive oil consumed per day, the risk of heart disease decreased by an extra 10%."

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Hummus can help lower cholesterol.

In addition to increasing good fat, research has found that chickpeas help lower bad LDL cholesterol. "In one study, 47 healthy adults consumed either a diet with added wheat or chickpeas. After five weeks, those who ate extra chickpeas had 4.6%lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels," says Warren. "Additional studies have concluded that a diet rich in legumes like chickpeas reduces 'bad' LDL cholesterol by an average of 5%."

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It reduces inflammation.

According to Warren, the sesame seeds often used in hummus have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body by reducing IL-6 and CRP, vascular inflammation markers, which can be high in inflammatory diseases like arthritis. "Inflammation is the way our body protects itself from injuries. It's meant to be short-term but sometimes becomes chronic, which is linked to many serious health problems," she says.

RELATED: 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat Every Day for Long-Term Health and Happiness

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It naturally regulates sugar.

Having a good balance of protein, fat, and fiber in a food can also help your body digest its sugars, says Warren. "It lowers the glycemic index, which refers to how quickly your body processes food into sugar. Respectively, it can help decrease the risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes."

RELATED: I Finally Figured Out How to Make the Crispiest, Crunchiest Chickpeas—And They're Good on Everything

How to Prepare and Enjoy Hummus

"Hummus can be used in sandwiches as a condiment, to prepare a creamy pasta dish with vegetables, or served as a dip with vegetables. Pair it with vitamin C (such as red peppers or cherry tomatoes) to enhance the iron absorption of the chickpeas," says Cotton, who suggests making hummus yourself or paying attention to store-bought packages to help control sodium intake. We also like to give it an extra flavor kick with horseradish or spices for a flavorful plant-based snack or meal.

Here are three more hummus recipes to add to your snack rotation.

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Easiest Homemade Hummus

Hummus
Greg DuPree

Homemade hummus is easy to whip up, especially with canned chickpeas, and it's tastier than anything store-bought. Once you get the hang of how to make hummus, you can tweak the flavors to your liking.

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Spiced Vegan Hummus Bowls

Spiced Vegan Hummus Bowls
Caitlin Bensel

This hearty dish is savory and flavorful—without any meat in sight. Plate up tasty, juicy plant-based beef over creamy hummus for a perfect weeknight meal.

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Pink Hummus

Pink Hummus
Victor Protasio

Punch up plain-old hummus with some vibrant color thanks to colorful beats. Serve with crispy veggies and seed-filled crackers.

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