Consumer Reports: Is hummus healthy?

Hummus. It's not the most popular dip around, salsa's got it beat by a landslide. Yet over the past several decades, hummus has been increasingly making its way into people's shopping carts. But have you ever wondered if the chickpea-based dip is really good for you? The nutrition team at Consumer Reports looks into it.

The popularity of hummus is spreading. The traditional recipe of chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon juice, spices and olive oil, delivers a simple dip in seconds. But is it healthy?

"If there was a nutrition contest for dips, hummus would win the top prize in the 'best all around' category," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone.

Each two tablespoon serving of hummus packs quite a nutritional punch, including heart healthy fat, two to three grams of protein and about three grams of fiber. Most of hummus' health benefits come from the chickpeas.

They are chock full of key nutrients, such as B vitamins, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. And they're part of a class of legumes, called Pulses, which have been shown to offer several health benefits.

"The research suggests that people who eat a lot of pulses do tend to weigh less," Calderone said. "They tend to have lower blood pressure, lower levels of bad cholesterol and even a reduced risk of certain diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of cancer."

But be aware, that same two tablespoon serving of hummus can have 50, 60 even 70 calories, depending on the brand. So be mindful when you're dipping.

When you're buying store bought hummus, Consumer Reports suggests paying close attention to the sodium content. Some brands add more than others, so read the label and look for a brand that has one-hundred and 40 milligrams per serving, or less.

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