Hummus is delicious, although it may not look like it. Due to the vegan hype, hummus was heavily trending and marketed as a healthy food.
However, in this article, we face uncomfortable questions: How much carbohydrate does hummus have? How healthy is it? Is hummus allowed on keto? And if not, what are the alternatives?
You’ll find out all this and more here, based on science.
Is Hummus Keto?
Hummus is a Levantine or Egyptian dish made from cooked and pureed chickpeas.
In the Middle East, hummus is one of the most popular foods, but also, in Western cuisine, the dip is trendy.
For example, it is currently considered a healthy superfood among vegans and vegetarians. However, there are also more and more advocates of the creamy dip in the low-carb and keto communities.
But hummus is by no means a new creation, as the earliest records of it date back to Arabic cookbooks of the 13th century.
It was prepared as a cold dish of pureed chickpeas, lemon, herbs, spices, vinegar, and oil (Gaul 20191).
To this day, the essential ingredients of classic hummus have not changed much:
- Tahini (sesame paste)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
Nevertheless, it is now prepared in countless variations. Accordingly, it is given a unique touch with, for example, dried tomatoes, artichokes, pestos, chilies, or other spices.
Chickpeas remain its main ingredient, which is also responsible for its creamy consistency. Therefore, it also determines whether hummus can be suitable for low-carb diets, as we will see in a moment in more detail.
Potential Health Benefits of Hummus
Hummus is currently experiencing hype as a dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan superfood. But can it live up to these high expectations?
Since the designation as a superfood is usually based on high nutrient density, we need to look closely at the range of micronutrients.
100g of homemade hummus contains high amounts of the following minerals and vitamins (*):
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (Vitamin B9/B11)
However, the micronutrients in hummus vary significantly with how it is prepared.
With this in mind, hummus appears to be a balanced food. Nevertheless, its main ingredient is legumes, known for carbohydrates and anti-nutrients.
Side Effects of Hummus on Keto
Although nutrition communities always point out their benefits, chickpeas also have health drawbacks.
The legumes contain many anti-nutrients, equalizing a large part of the health benefits of hummus.
Phytic acid is a bioactive substance that grains, seeds, and legumes, for example, contain.
Accordingly, chickpeas also contain this anti-nutrient. Since phytic acid can insolubly bind minerals in the digestive tract, it significantly limits their absorption (Gibson et al. 20102).
For this reason, we can ultimately absorb the phosphorus, manganese, or copper in hummus only in small amounts.
Plants also defend themselves against predators. They produce large, sticky proteins to ward off pests, insects, and microorganisms (Dolan et al. 20103).
Although we do not digest these anti-nutrients, they can sneak into the bloodstream through the gut.
These so-called lectins hide in seeds, grains, leaves, barks, and hulls. Their concentration is exceptionally high in legumes, such as chickpeas.
Lectins bind viruses and bacteria and help them to cross the intestinal wall and reach organs (Dalla Pellegrina et al. 20094).
In addition, lectins can cause inflammation (Freed 19995).
Furthermore, lectins can bind to insulin and leptin receptors, ultimately leading to weight gain (Shechter 19836).
The bottom line is that because of chickpeas, hummus is not a superfood, especially if you want to lose weight.
However, its net carbohydrate content decides how well hummus suits keto and low carb.
Carbs in Hummus
Hummus is high in fiber and, unlike raw chickpeas, contains healthy fats due to the olive oil, as long as you make it yourself.
Anyway, these are advantages concerning a low-carb diet like the keto diet.
How Many Carbs Are in Hummus?
These facts are reflected in the nutritional values of 100 grams of homemade hummus (*):
- Energy: 177 calories
- Protein: 4.9 grams
- Fat: 8.6 grams
- Carbs: 20.1 grams
- Dietary fiber: 4.0 grams
- Net carbs: 16.1 grams
The fat-to-net carbohydrate ratio is at least better than that of plain chickpeas. Still, it remains well below a value of 1.
Is Hummus Keto-Friendly?
Hummus is not keto. But it’s still the better version of chickpeas as long as you make the dip yourself.
In contrast, you should avoid hummus from the grocery store, regardless of how you’re currently eating.
Ready-to-eat hummus is usually made with vegetable oils, processed legumes, and artificial ingredients that wreak havoc on your gut.
Moreover, these ingredients are generally harmful to your health. The trans fats in ready-made hummus promote, among other things (Dhaka et al. 20117):
- Cardiovascular disease
- Inflammation in the body
In addition to the ready-made variety from the supermarket, homemade hummus is not an ideal option for a low-carb diet. Ultimately, carbohydrates dominate the dip. Hummus is simply a high-carb food.
Therefore, keto-friendly alternatives have emerged, in which you replace chickpeas with low-carb foods.
Hummus Substitute for Keto
Traditional hummus is ultimately a no-go in the context of a ketogenic diet.
Fortunately, however, suitable low-carb alternatives can give homemade hummus an equally creamy consistency.
In keto hummus, you replace legumes with low-carb vegetables or nuts. In recent years, the following foods have proven to be excellent substitutes in the course of low-carb hummus recipes:
- Parsnips (medium carb)
- Macadamia nuts
All of these foods reduce the carb content of hummus tremendously. Moreover, avocados and nuts can add additional healthy fats to the dip.
Keto Cauliflower Hummus Recipe
After easily pureeing and giving hummus a similar creamy consistency, cauliflower has emerged as the most popular substitute for chickpeas.
This tried-and-true recipe makes hummus a high-fat, low-carb dip that you can snack on without a guilty conscience:
Keto Hummus with Cauliflower
- 1 medium Cauliflower
- 4 tbsp Tahina
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 3 gloves Garlic pressed
- Clean the cauliflower and cut the florets.
- Boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes until soft.
- Then put all the ingredients in the blender and puree until you get a nice smooth hummus.
- Finally, season to taste and dress with olive oil in a bowl.
Celery stalks are particularly suitable for dipping, as they contain hardly any net carbohydrates and already have the right shape. So you need minimal time for preparation.
Avoid the Carbs in Hummus on Keto
If you regularly reach for hummus on a ketogenic diet, you can quickly exceed your daily carbohydrate limit.
In the end, on a standard keto diet, that’s usually only 30-50 grams of net carbs daily to stay in ketosis.
Blame the incompatibility with low-carb diets on the main ingredient: the chickpea.
Chickpeas are legumes; like their peers, they contain plenty of carbohydrates. Even a 200-gram serving of hummus exceeds a net carbohydrate value of 30 grams. And such a serving size is devoured quickly.
Fortunately, there are keto-friendly low-carb alternatives to chickpeas. You can use cauliflower, almonds, or avocados to make equally delicious mush for dipping.
You can add fewer carbs and more healthy fats to your hummus variation. For a tried-and-true low-carb hummus recipe with cauliflower, see above.
Is Hummus Keto – Carbs in Hummus FAQ
Is chickpeas allowed in keto diet?
Chickpeas are not allowed on a keto diet since they contain too many carbs.
Is tahini allowed on keto?
Yes, tahini is allowed on keto. Its fat-to-net carbs ratio is about 5 to 1.
What dips are good for keto diet?
Since it is too high in carbohydrates, regular hummus is not allowed on the keto diet.
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Stephan is a writer and a true man of science, holding multiple diplomas and master's degrees in different research areas. His greatest passion is closing the gap between the conventional perception of health and the latest scientific evidence – always following the data.