Do you have a hard time keeping yourself full between meals? While some people can go several hours and remain satiated, others get hungry more quickly. There’s nothing abnormal about having a snack or two before or after lunch, especially if you burned a lot of calories exercising that morning. However, constantly needing something small to tide you over may be a sign that you aren’t consuming the right foods. Some snacks will exacerbate your cravings, while others can keep you fuller for longer.
Foods that are high in fiber and high in protein can keep you fuller longer because they increase feelings of satiety. This was the theory behind a recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition, which measured how much hummus can help maintain a healthy diet. In fact, researchers discovered that an afternoon hummus snack naturally promoted healthy eating, because it left participants feeling satisfied. It also reduced their appetites and helped them keep their glycemic levels in check.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited 39 adults and randomly placed them into three afternoon snack categories: Those who received hummus and pretzels, those who received granola bars, and those who received no snack at all in between meals. Participants in the first two categories received their snacks three hours after lunch and three hours before dinner for six consecutive days. Investigators then measured the quality and quantity of other foods that participants chose to eat throughout the day.
Upon analyzing the data, researchers found that those who consumed hummus were 20 percent less likely to consume dessert snacks than those who had no snack at all. In addition, hummus reduced participants’ appetite and the chances that they would fill up on other foods by 70 percent when compared to the no-snack participants. Granola bars did not reduce appetite or prevent participants from further snacking. While satiety was up by 30 percent in both the hummus and granola bar groups, only hummus was successful at reducing blood glucose concentrations by about 5 percent, in comparison with the bars.
Why might hummus be so successful at boosting satiety and minimizing extra snacking? Just half a cup of hummus contains about 10.7 grams of protein and 7.1 grams of total dietary fiber. According to a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, protein is known to increase satiety better than carbohydrates or fat, in part because it increases thermogenesis. Thermogenesis, which is literally defined as heat production, is the release of energy through heat. Protein also takes longer to digest, which causes your body to send signals to your brain that you are still full. Similarly, your body needs plenty of time to digest fiber and will therefore send signals of satiety to your brain, per a review in The Journal of Nutrition.
Previous research supports the idea that hummus not only decreases snacking, but helps women lose weight. A 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences showed that hummus may contribute to a slimmer waistline. This was because female participants who included hummus in their diets tended to eat more fiber and healthy fats than those who didn’t eat hummus.
However, the recent hummus study from The Journal of Nutrition ought to be taken with a few grains of salt. The investigation was relatively small with only 39 participants, which makes it difficult to rule out other factors that could contribute to feelings of satiety. In addition, investigators did not give participants a standardized breakfast, lunch, or dinner during each day of the experiment, which means that other foods the participants consumed could have affected their feelings of fullness and their glucose levels.
Still, the science behind hummus has some weight to it. If you are looking for a filling snack to incorporate into your diet, this Mediterranean food is an excellent go-to. Making it yourself is relatively easy, and will also help you control the salt content. Plus, if you don’t like certain flavors in your hummus, you can simply modify the dip to your tastes. Adding lemon, cumin, or a new favorite spice will keep you interested in this snack for longer. Whether you use hummus as a veggie or potato chip dip, a sandwich spread, or a side on your salad, this savory bean dip may curb your cravings and satisfy your appetite.