Short answer – definitely not. There are many types of hummus preparations available for purchase at your local market. So many different brands, then different flavors as well. Many believe hummus is always healthy. Not always the case. Be on the lookout for additives, preservatives, excessive amounts of sodium and added sugars. I find the best convenience foods are those with few ingredients, no additives and no preservatives.
Hummus is something I eat maybe 2-3 times a month, and I only consume Whole Foods Brand 365 Original Hummus. This will become important a couple paragraphs down. My system tolerates this brand well and I enjoy the taste and texture. [note:Because of my under active thyroid condition and food sensitivities, I do not eat many legumes. I do not feel great after having a large serving of beans or peanuts, or even if I have small amounts spread over several consecutive days]
The Whole Foods 365 hummus has the lowest amount of sodium I have found in a store bought preparation, with 75mg per 1oz or 28g. I find many other brands have over 100mg of sodium per serving. The ingredients listed in the 365 brand are simple enough. They consist of chick peas, water, sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt.
As mentioned above, I typically only consume this brand of hummus. Well the other day I was at my local Plum Market store and was looking for a hummus I could have that evening with a similar nutrition profile to the Whole Foods brand hummus. The best option was Cedar’s Classic Original with 115mg of sodium per serving and a natural preservative, citric acid. This hummus had preservatives and added oils. I wasn’t happy with it, but figured a serving or 2 that evening would be fine.
Cedar’s Classic Original Hommus
I was very wrong. That night after 2 or 3 servings (so 2-3oz) of the Cedar’s brand hommus, I had severe heartburn all night. So severe, I drove to Walgreens in the middle of the night and downed a few Tums. Mind you, I haven’t taken anything for heartburn for over 4 years as it is a rare occurrence for me to have heartburn. My body knew these 2 brands of hummus were very different.
Looking at the Cedar’s hommus label above, what were the red flags? Let’s start with ingredients – fresh steamed chickpeas, sunflower oil, olive oil, sesame tahini, water, sea salt, citric acid, roasted garlic, guar gum, cumin. First, why not steamed chickpeas rather than “fresh” steamed chickpeas? I would never think the manufacturer would include chickpeas that had gone bad. Then we see 2 types of oils added to the hommus. This doesn’t sit well with me. Citric acid is a red flag as this is a preservative. Finally, guar gum. Not sure why this is needed – perhaps for shelf life and appearance.
And here’s something comical about the label. If you read the top right of the label starting with “The Original blend of hommus…” you will notice the last line in that section reads, “..lemon juice is just a hint…” Then scroll down to the ingredients as you should find lemon juice as detailed in the description. Gotcha! No lemon juice in the hommus at all! That is some garbage – I promise I will not buy this product, nor from this brand ever again.
Lesson – always read labels. Ingredients first, then nutrition. Choose items with fewest ingredients and stay away from additives and preservatives.
The best hummus I have had is sprouted hummus made at home. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to sprout chickpeas then make hummus a couple times a month so 365 original hummus it is!
Another note about hummus, why all the different spellings?