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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here's to Healthy Hummus!

Lately I have been in a hummus mood. I love hummus! There are so many variations of herbs & spices that can be added to make it palatable to everyone. So what's the big deal about hummus you ask? Well, I wondered "what exactly are the health benefits of eating hummus?"
Let's take a look at the health benefits of some of the ingredients in a basic hummus recipe(following);garbanzo beans(chick peas),tahini(sesame seed paste),olive oil. lemon zest/juice & cayenne.

Chickpeas contain healthy nutrients including protein, manganese, folate, tryptophan, copper, phosphorus and iron. Plus, they're an excellent source of fiber, which is known to help lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Tahini (Sesame seeds) contain beneficial fibers called sesamin and sesamolin, both of which belong to the lignan group. These substances help lower cholesterol and have been found to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E in animals. Sesamin also protects the liver from oxidative damage. Sesame seeds are also rich in manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1and zinc.

Cayenne contains a pungent resin-like substance known as capsaicin. This chemical, the active ingredient of pepper spray or mace, relieves pain and itching by affecting sensory nerves. Capsaicin temporarily causes various neurotransmitters to release from these nerves, leading to their depletion. Without the neurotransmitters, pain signals can no longer be sent.

Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.Olives and olive oil also contain antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamin E. This combination has been found to help fight colon cancer and heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation.Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tbsp.(23g)of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin B6, iron and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. They also contain calcium, copper, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Aside from their many nutrients, lemons are rich in bioflavonoids, which protect against damage from free radicals, act as natural antibiotics and may help prevent heart disease and cancer. Lemon pulp and skin contains pectin, a compound that may lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Some other ingredients to try in your own recipe include;
Mint, aside from being a good source of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A, the peppermint oil in fresh mint leaves is soothing for the stomach -- it's been found to relieve irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, colonic muscle spasms and more. It also contains potent phytonutrients that have been found to protect against cancer, neutralize free radicals, and benefit asthma and allergies.

Cumin is rich in iron, which is excellent for energy and keeping the immune system healthy. It is also known to benefit the digestive system, as cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that help with digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin may also have cancer-fighting properties.

Turmeric is a nutrition powerhouse. Most notably, it contains curcumin, which gives it not only its color but also many of its health benefits. Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to be helpful in fighting inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. It may also provide cardiovascular and liver protection.

Here is a basic recipe to try and enjoy, it only takes a few minutes to make your own fresh hummus.

In a processor or blender pulse together until well blended;
1 can garbanzo beans (you can add more or less to your thickness preference)
2 Tablespoons tahini and
3(adjust to taste)garlic cloves (blanched for 3 minutes in boiling water)

Add and pulse again, until blended;
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest(finely grated peel)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt or sea salt (optional)

Lastly add 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro and pulse just enough to distribute.

My favorite ways to eat hummus are as the "stick it together" in a veggie sandwich, on crackers, as a celery stuffing and on slices of red bell pepper (yum!). If you don't care for the flavor of garbanzo beans, try substituting white or navy beans.
Peaceful Enjoyment!
Mountain Mary