Is Hummus a Good Source of Protein?
A dietitian explains the true nutritional benefits (and downsides) of your favorite chickpea dip.
Nutritionists all have their pet peeves. One of mine? Seeing hummus being referred to as a good source of protein. It's an issue worth clearing up as it's all too easy to *think* you're making a filling, nutritious choice by ordering a vegetable and hummus sandwich, but then wind up hungry an hour later reaching for more food, wondering where you went wrong. Sound familiar? It's not your fault!
While we're often made to believe hummus is packed with protein on menus, in social media posts, and on food labels, it doesn't actually pack that powerful a protein punch. Hummus is made of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and spices (usually salt, pepper, and sometimes cumin and paprika, among others).
All of this makes hummus a good source of fat and carbohydrates. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's standard servings sizes, a serving of carbohydrate is equivalent to 15 grams and a serving size of fat is 5 grams. Most hummus brands provide about 4 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat.
As for protein? Most brands of hummus have about 2 grams of protein per serving (2 tablespoons), which is a drop in the bucket compared to what you need each day. After all, generally speaking, protein recommendations for healthy adults are 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. (Lots of factors like activity level and certain health conditions can impact protein requirements.) A kilogram is equivalent to about 2.2 pounds. Someone who weighs 150 pounds (about 68 kg) needs about 55 to 68 grams of protein per day.
To hit a goal of, say, 60 grams, you'd need 30 servings-or 60 tablespoons-of hummus. You wouldn't want to do this because you'd go seriously overboard on your carb and fat intake for the day.
That's not to say hummus isn't a healthy food. Hummus *is* one of the healthy foods you'll find inside supermarket aisles. Filling fiber and healthy fats lend some staying power-just not as much as a full serving of protein. (Here are 13 different ways to make hummus.) Want to make your hummus a little more filling? Up the protein content by mixing your hummus (either a whole batch or a 2-tablespoon serving) with one of these protein-rich foods:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Unflavored protein powder (try pea or egg white protein)