Traditional hummus is made from a blend of chickpeas, olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and spices, and this mix makes for a nutrient-dense food, says Elizabeth G. Matteo, a registered dietitian at Boston University’s Sargent Choice Nutrition Center. “It generally offers more vitamins and minerals than many other dips or spreads,” she says, since it includes calcium, folate and magnesium.
This blend of nutrients can also stabilize blood sugar and help prevent heart disease, says Los Angeles-based registered dietitian Lindsey Pine. Hummus also contains what she calls the “trifecta of macronutrients”—healthy fat, protein and fiber—that keep you full and satisfied, which is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Just like beans, lentils, peas and other dry, edible legume seeds that fall into the ‘pulses’ category, chickpeas are a good source of protein and fiber compared to other plants. But don’t expect to get your daily dose of either from hummus alone: a two-tablespoon serving of the dip contains two grams of protein and one gram of fiber. (The daily government recommendation is about 50 grams of protein per day for an average adult; for dietary fiber, the recommendations are about 25 grams a day for women and around 38 grams a day for men.) Chickpeas also are not a complete source of protein, meaning they don’t have all of the essential amino acids that meat, fish, dairy and eggs do.