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Here’s the thing. When you look solely at the carbohydrate count of hummus, 16 grams in one-third of a cup, you’d rule it out as part of a keto diet and move on.
After all, one-third cup isn’t much. And if you’re trying to strictly limit yourself to 20 grams or less of carbs each day you're on keto, you probably don’t want to squander most of it on a puny amount of hummus.
However, don’t dismiss it so quickly! Hummus has many downright amazing health benefits that make it a valuable addition to your keto diet - despite its relatively high carb count. Which is excellent news for those of you who love hummus and were wondering if you’d have to give it up on keto.
Let me clarify.
What Makes Hummus So Amazing
Hummus is a combination of six seemingly simple ingredients:
- Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
Each one of these has it’s own health benefits. Together, they’re even more powerful.
Now let’s dive deeper into the qualities of each ingredient.
#1 Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
These amazing legumes can help improve insulin resistance, a condition in which your cells become numb to insulin and can no longer use it effectively to help regulate blood sugars. So even though chickpeas have a relatively high carb count for the keto diet, they won’t affect your blood glucose as much as other legumes such as kidney beans or lentils. I have clients with diabetes who eat chickpeas and their blood sugar isn’t unduly affected by it.
As well, when you combine chickpeas with the fat from olive oil and tahini, the fat buffers the effect of the carbs in chickpeas so that you won’t experience an insulin spike when you eat them. This makes chickpeas effectively a low-carb legume when used in hummus.
Another outstanding property of chickpeas is that they contain 75% insoluble fiber. When this fiber gets into your large intestine, the so-called good microbes in your gut feast on it, making something called butyric acid. Your colon cells love butyric acid and prefer it as their primary source of food.
Additionally, this acid helps improve insulin resistance and has broad anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the root of most diseases, which is why having more butyric acid in their body could benefit many people who have health problems stemming from inflammation.
But wait, there’s more!
Chickpeas are high in molybdenum, a trace mineral that’s essential for your health. Molybdenum helps detoxify your liver from such substances as heavy metals and byproducts of candida.
As you can see, these plain-looking little legumes carry a powerful health punch.
Tahini is the name for sesame seed oil, which contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat-soluble vitamins are most abundant in high-fat foods and are much better absorbed into your bloodstream when you eat them with fat.
Why are fat-soluble vitamins important?
- Vitamin A is key to maintaining your vision and it supports your immune system
- Vitamin D is crucial for bone health
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which protects your cells against premature aging and damage by free radicals
- Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting. Without it, you would run the risk of bleeding to death.
But that’s not all. Tahini is high in methionine, an amino acid that’s good for countering depression and preventing gray hair. Plus, tahini is good for gallbladder support and generally boosting your health.
#3 Olive Oil
What’s not to love about olive oil? It’s anti-inflammatory that’s so powerful it’s considered almost as strong as ibuprofen for treating pain and headaches.
Olive oil also supports your cardiovascular system and is high in the antioxidative vitamin E.
When you use it, make sure it’s extra virgin olive oil, often shortened as EVOO.
As well, it’s high in vitamin C. The benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Did you know that garlic is one of the most potent antimicrobial foods you can consume? Garlic is also anti-cancer, has many vital nutrients such as manganese, vitamins B1, B6 and C; along with copper, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium.
As well, garlic helps eliminate parasites and fungus.
#6 Sea Salt
There are 94 different minerals in sea salt that help nourish and strengthen your body. As well, salt helps balance your electrolytes and support your adrenal glands.
When you buy hummus, read the label. Stick with hummus that contains just these ingredients, not preservatives, chemicals, or soy oil. Or even better, make your own.
How To Make Your Own Hummus
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini, see our homemade tahini recipe
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water
- Dash ground paprika, for serving
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2-teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth 1 to 2 minutes.
Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
Hummus Is A Natural Health Powerhouse
You can see that hummus is an incredibly beneficial food. There’s no need to give it up when you’re on a keto diet. Hummus’ benefits far outweigh its carb count. Of course, don’t go crazy and eat cup after cup of it - you’ll really throw yourself out of ketosis if you do.
When you eat hummus, be sure to eat it with vegetables instead of pita bread or chips. That way you’ll keep it keto-adherent. And if you buy it from the store, read the label. Choose one made without chemicals, preservatives, or soy oil, all of which can damage your health.
So hummus lovers, rejoice! You can still enjoy this delicious food while on a keto diet. And if by chance you haven’t given hummus a try, I promise you it will be a delicious event.