It's not easy to find healthy snacks, but hummus is one you can add to the list. Its two main ingredients -- chickpeas and tahini, or sesame paste -- are chock-full of fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, zinc and B-vitamins. Use hummus as a dip for your favorite vegetables and you’ve created a filling and nutrient-rich snack.
Hummus usually consists of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil blended into a dip-like consistency, but you'll find many variations, some without tahini. Some cooks replace the chickpeas with other legumes and add seasonings, such as cayenne and cumin. Two cups of chickpeas and 1/2 cup of tahini make about 3 cups of hummus. That should be enough to serve eight people a portion of 1/3 cup, the serving size used for fiber values.
Types of Fiber
Chickpeas and tahini contain both types of fiber -- soluble and insoluble. This adds to the health benefits of hummus, because each type of fiber has a different role. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and keeps blood sugar balanced. The insoluble type is better known as roughage because it adds bulk and helps food move through the digestive tract. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily.
Chickpeas are the biggest source of fiber in hummus. If the hummus does not have tahini, 98 percent of the total fiber comes from the chickpeas. With the combination of 2 cups of chickpeas and 1/2 cup of tahini, the chickpeas account for 69 percent of the fiber. Chickpeas can make a good dent in your daily fiber requirement. The chickpeas in one serving of hummus supply 3 grams of fiber, or 12 percent of your daily value of fiber. They're also a good source of protein, folate, iron and magnesium.
Tahini is made from sesame seeds blended with just enough vegetable oil to produce the desired consistency. In a bowl of hummus made from 2 cups of chickpeas and 1/2 cup of tahini, the tahini provides 29 percent of the total fiber. You'll get 1.3 grams, or 5 percent of your daily value of fiber, from the tahini in hummus. Tahini also contributes protein, calcium, iron, zinc and B-vitamins.
Garlic and Lemon Juice
The remaining fiber in hummus, which is only two percent of the total, comes from four cloves of garlic and 6 tablespoons of lemon juice. Each one provides 0.3 gram of fiber.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Chickpeas, (Garbanzo Beans, Bengal Gram), Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Seeds, Sesame Butter, Tahini, From Roasted and Toasted Kernels
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Garlic, Raw
- USDA Agricultural Research: Lemon Juice, Canned or Bottled
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber -- Start Roughing It!
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.