Pregnancy is a time of cravings for the mother-to-be and a time for the mother to eat healthy and nutritious food as well. There is a list of do’s and don’ts, so sometimes it is very confusing for the mother to decide. Everybody tries to share their opinion and experiences with the pregnant lady. These days almost all types of food are available easily and due to technological advancement recipes from any cuisine all over the world are available easily over the internet. The new generation cravings can be of any cuisine, mostly pizzas, burgers, pasta, tacos, quesadillas, shawarma, and hummus and pita bread to top the charts. But how safe is hummus during pregnancy?
Hummus is a middle eastern dip that is taken with Pita bread. This cuisine has recently become a favorite amongst all. Now let’s learn about the health benefits of hummus for pregnant women, and much more.
Hummus- What Is It And What Is The Nutritional Profile?
Hummus is a middle eastern cuisine and a dip that is made from cooked and mashed chickpeas that are then blended with lemon juice, garlic, and tahini or sesame paste. This dip is made with olive oil. It is also healthy food. It is rich in texture and very creamy and has a tangy and garlic flavor and can be paired with either fresh vegetables or crispy pita bread.
It is a healthy snack option to be consumed during pregnancy, but if eaten in excess amounts or not taken fresh it can lead to unnecessary infections, so it is best to have it in moderation and should always be eaten fresh.
It is an excellent source of plant-based protein. It has great nutritional value making it one of the pregnancy superfoods. It also answers can you eat hummus during pregnancy? According to a source, below is the nutritional profile of 100 grams of hummus.
- Iron- 2.4 mg
- Magnesium- 71 mg
- Calcium- 38 mcg
- Phosphorous- 176 mg
- Folate- 83 mcg
- Fat- 9.6 gm
- Manganese- 0.8 mg
- Fiber- 6 gm
- Protein- 6.1 gm
- Carbohydrates- 14.3 gm
10 Benefits Of Eating Hummus During Pregnancy
Hummus is an energy-rich food and is advisable to be consumed by pregnant women. Some of the benefits of hummus during pregnancy are as below:
1. Hummus helps to improve the process of digestion
Since hummus has a lot of dietary fiber, it leads to better digestion and helps to combat constipation during pregnancy. The fiber in chickpeas may also assist in improving gut health by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria1.
2. Hummus reduces the likelihood of birth defects
It is advisable by the doctor to take folic acid during pregnancy for preventing neural defects in the unborn baby. Hummus is rich in folate2. Hummus is therefore beneficial to prevent birth defects when consumed during pregnancy.
3. Contributes to the development of bones
Hummus is calcium-rich so it helps in making the bones strong. Hummus, which is high in plant-based protein, helps build strength and develop bones and muscles. Furthermore, in addition to zinc and magnesium in hummus, other minerals that contribute to bone health include phosphorus, copper, and selenium.
Related Reading: Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods For Pregnancy
4. Hummus aids in the overall development of the fetus
The body’s cells are made up of proteins. In the same way, protein is essential for the development of a fetus, which is why it is considered an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Hummus contains about 3% of the protein in it, and therefore it’s beneficial to eat hummus during the second and third trimesters when a fetus’s development is at its maximum, claims a source.
5. It helps to control prenatal depression
Hummus contains calcium, vitamin B6, and omega 3. Calcium and omega-three together help to combat mood issues3. Omega 3 is also found to have a strong positive effect on most mood disorders4. There has not been any scientific research done on the effectiveness of hummus in the treatment of mood swings during pregnancy. However, most pregnant women report feeling better after consuming hummus. The nutrient choline found in chickpeas is important for the health of the nervous system, the brain, and even for controlling moods, memory, and muscle movement.
Related Reading: 15 Tried And Tested Ways To Handle Emotions During Pregnancy
6. Hummus helps to ease joint pains
It is normal for women to experience various aches and pains during pregnancy. Hummus contains three key ingredients: chickpeas, olive oil, and sesame seeds, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are therefore very effective in easing joint pain5.
7. Hummus has a low GI or Glycemic index
Hummus contains special fats that slow down the rate at which sugar is released in the blood. This helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level. It is good for mothers who have gestational diabetes as hummus offers all nutrients without raising the glucose levels due to its low GI4.
8. It helps in developing the retina and the brain of the fetus
Hummus has Omega 3 fatty acids that help in the development of the retina and fetal brain development as well.
9. It is also good for weight management
Studies have shown that those who eat chickpeas or hummus regularly are 53% less likely to be obese. The right weight gain is crucial during pregnancy. This can be achieved by eating hummus during pregnancy without harming the fetus’ nutritional needs.
10. It is also good for mothers with intolerances
Hummus is free of gluten, nuts, and dairy. This makes it suitable for mothers suffering from conditions like lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and nut allergies
Hummus: What Research Tells Us?
The research states that hummus is a perfect food for a pregnant lady and good enough to satisfy any cravings. Though a great choice, it is important to know if store-bought hummus is pasteurized? The pregnant lady needs to be cautious when taking pre-packed hummus so that protection from foodborne illness can be taken.
Hummus is nutrient-rich and has a good composition of folate, iron, fiber, protein, etc. Hummus offers many health benefits for the mother as well as the baby. In case of craving hummus during pregnancy, it should be kept in mind that packaged hummus should be only taken when fresh as listeriosis can affect the weak immune system of the pregnant lady and can even result in miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth.
Though doctors don’t put a tab on consuming hummus, it is more advisable to have two tablespoons of hummus daily. That is a moderate quantity that should be consumed by a pregnant lady. It can be taken as a sip or even as a spread.
Hummus is fiber-rich that helps in the proper functioning of the digestive system, has folate that helps in keeping neural tube defects at bay, calcium that leads to healthy bones, carbohydrates that keep the sugar levels in control, and many other nutrients, so it is a filling meal and highly nutritious as well.
So, it is more advisable to have homemade hummus during pregnancy to evade all sorts of infections and yet get a healthy diet as well as satisfy the cravings.
Related Reading: 9 Common Infections During Pregnancy You Should Be Aware Of
Risks And Precautions When Eating Hummus During Pregnancy
Though good for the health of the pregnant lady, hummus is not free from side effects. Thus, it is important to have a look at the risks and the precautions apart from their nutritional value and benefits.
- If the hummus is not fresh and bought from the store and refrigerated, chances of bacteria are there
- The pre-packed hummus contains listeria, a bacterium that is very dangerous for the growing baby as well as the mother
- It can be even fatal for the baby and can lead to other risks as well
- It even weakens the immune system and results in a disease called listeriosis
- Hummus is made from sesame seeds sauce, also referred to as the tahini sauce which is not suitable for women who are allergic to sesame seeds
- It can have side effects in the form of nausea, coughing, stomach pain, breathing difficulty, vomiting, etc and medical help should be taken in case these symptoms are seen
Related Reading: Can Sesame Seeds During Pregnancy Cause Miscarriage? Know Here
Since pre-packed hummus has chances of bacteria that can be extremely dangerous, it is better to follow some precautions before consuming it.
- It is important to check the date on the packed hummus before consuming it
- It should only be consumed when fresh
- It is important to track the foodborne illness data that helps in staying up to date
Homemade Hummus Recipe
Since packed hummus has high chances of dangerous bacteria which can be fatal for the mother and the baby, it is best to prepare homemade hummus during pregnancy and the recipe is as given below.
- Soak 2 cups of chickpeas in water overnight
- Boil the chickpeas for a maximum of 2 hours and then strain and keep them aside
- Check that they are tender and soft
- Grind the chickpeas along with 2 tbsp of sesame seeds paste or tahini sauce, and ¼th cup lemon juice. It is optional but a few garlic cloves can be added as well
- Blend till a creamy texture is reached
- Add ½ cup water for a smoother consistency
- In the end, a few drops of olive oil and salt can be added as per taste
- Give it a proper mix
- The homemade hummus is ready
- Enjoy with vegetables or crispy Pita bread, salad
Thus, hummus is a nutrient-rich, light, and delicious spread that is recommended for the pregnancy diet, yet it is important to not overeat and also keep a tab on the dietary needs. Most importantly hummus should be taken fresh and not pre-packed. It should always be consumed in moderate quantity to reap maximum benefits and have a healthy and smooth pregnancy.
Hummus can be enjoyed as a dip with vegetable sticks, pita bread. It can be a great sandwich spread or a filling snack that can be added with vegetables.
The vegetable sticks that can be enjoyed with hummus as a dip are tomatoes, radish, bell pepper, beetroot, and cucumber.
Hummus can be frozen and can be done so in small batches. Since hummus expands on freezing, it is not advisable to fill it, but some space should be left in the container for expansion.