Parade aims to feature only the best products and services. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Hummus is one of the great holy grail snacks—right up there with tzatziki and whipped eggplant spreads in the trinity of delicious dips. Rich in olive oil and healthy fats, it's also a Mediterranean Diet staple and generally loved by most, especially when paired with warm pita or crisp veggies. Which is why so many brands have jumped on the handcrafted hummus bandwagon lately.
What started as a handful of mainstream hummus brands in the condiment aisle of the grocery store has slowly morphed into countless new faces sporting whimsical names, cheeky mascots and very exotic flavors. Luckily for us, hummus has gotten even healthier thanks to small-batch crafters seeking new and improved variations.
Although hummus is not classified as a low-fat food due to the inclusion of tahini or oil, "the type of fat content can be health-promoting depending on the ingredients used," explains Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the National Coalition on Healthcare. "Certain brands may offer flavors that are higher in sugar, particularly those with dessert-inspired profiles, so it's best to opt for traditional flavors such as plain, garlic or roasted pepper as a strategic way to avoid added sugars."
As for the healthiest brands to shop at the grocery store, keep reading for Costa's favorites, along with other registered dietitians' go-to picks in the chickpea champions category.
Related: Best Creamy Hummus Recipe
What To Look For in a Healthy Hummus
While you might be aware that not all hummus is created equal, you might not know what to look for when shopping for hummus at the grocery store. According to Costa, you should choose a hummus based on the following nutrition facts if you're trying to go the healthy route:
Has chickpeas listed as the main ingredient
Contains tahini or extra virgin olive oil as a source of healthy fats
Includes 5g or less (preferably zero grams) of added sugar
Has no artificial preservatives or additives
Includes non-GMO and organic options, if available
Even if hummus is considered to be a healthier snack, as opposed to say, a bag of chips, it can still be loaded with fat if you're opting for the versions with added toppings. "Hummus with high levels of added sugars, sodium, artificial ingredients or preservatives can have negative effects on your health and may contribute to inflammation or weight gain," says Costa. So, try to avoid those at all costs.
Then there's the seed oil factor to consider. "The concern with seed oils originates from the processing methods, which might result in the production of harmful compounds that can trigger inflammation," says Costa. So if you have reservations about seed oils, she recommends purchasing hummus that is either oil-free or prepared with extra virgin olive oil.
The Healthiest Hummus at the Grocery Store, According to Registered Dietitians
While there are tons of hummus brands lining the shelves at your local grocery store, ranging from mass-produced to organic and classic flavors to bold (we see you, pickle hummus), these are the healthiest types you can buy, according to our group of registered dietitians.
Costa's #1 pick for better-for-you hummus is Hope Foods, especially, their Sea Salt & Olive Oil Hummus. "This hummus stands out for its quality ingredients, fantastic flavor and lack of unnecessary additives," she explains. She notes it offers a robust nutritional profile from chickpeas and tahini, plus extra virgin olive oil for additional phytonutrients and healthy fats. "Unlike many store-bought hummus options that contain sunflower oil, which is currently controversial among experts due to its seed oil origin, Hope Hummus's use of olive oil is a healthier, more agreeable choice. It also gains bonus points by being non-GMO and organic."
If seed oils aren't a concern for you, then Costa's second choice would be Ithaca Hummus as a runner-up. "It's easily accessible at most grocery stores and distinguishes itself by using expeller-pressed high-oleic sunflower oil to maintain the quality of its ingredients," she shares.
Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, LD, a Nashville, TN-based dietitian and owner of Chelsea LeBlanc Nutrition, is also a big fan of Ithaca's hummus, adding that it's crafted without questionable preservatives, and made with straightforward ingredients like chickpeas, tahini, garlic and cold-pressed lemon juice instead. "With unique flavors like lemon dill, kalamata olive and everything bagel, Ithaca Hummus offers a nutritious and delicious addition to your grocery list," she says.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, LeBlanc loves Lantana for its bean-based hummus varieties that are a playful twist on classic chickpea (think avocado, black bean and cauliflower pizza crust hummus). "They're blended with wholesome ingredients like beans, olive oil, tahini and natural seasonings, making them one of the healthiest options in the grocery store," she says. Lantana is also gluten-free, vegan and kosher.
"If you're looking for a budget-friendly choice, don't overlook your local grocery store's own brand of hummus," advises LeBlanc. "For instance, Simple Truth Organic Hummus (which can be found at Kroger) provides an affordable option with a short and sweet ingredient list for $4." Made with organic chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and citric acid to keep it fresh and safe, she likes this wallet-friendly way to enjoy wholesome hummus.
For a no-oil hummus alternative, Jordan Hill, MCD, RD, CSSD, a registered dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching, is partial to Cava Traditional Hummus. "The typical American diet tends to contain more omega-6 oils than omega-3s, which can cause inflammation in the body," she explains, "and because we often get healthy fats from other foods throughout the day, having a no-oil hummus option may appeal to some." Cava uses filtered water, lemon juice and citric acid in lieu of oil, along with pureed chickpeas, tahini and fresh garlic, but keeps all of its hummus free of anything artificial. You can find their tubs of traditional, spicy and roasted red pepper hummus in most organic and major grocery stores as well as online.
The Least Healthy Hummus You Can Buy
Even with "healthier" brand options, Costa says to stay away from dessert flavors like chocolate, strawberry and pumpkin pie, as they can have tons of added sugars and artificial flavors.
"Sabra, Cedar's and other mass-produced, widely available brands are typically less healthy as they often contain additives and preservatives to prolong their shelf life and enhance flavor," she adds.
The Healthiest Ways To Eat Hummus
Once you're stocked up on healthy hummus, it's time to put it to good use. Given its incredibly versatile nature, hummus can be used in myriad ways as a dip, condiment or as the base for sauces. "Packed with fiber, protein and vital nutrients, it helps keep your energy stable and also fend off hunger," says LeBlanc. Here are some of her favorite ways to use it:
On whole-grain toast and topped with sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and herbs for breakfast.
In a veggie-loaded hummus wrap with fresh greens, roasted peppers and grilled chicken for lunch.
As a flavorful sauce for grilled fish or chicken for dinner.
Served as a dip with whole-grain crackers or crunchy veggies as a snack and in hummus pinwheels for a delicious, portable meal.
Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist at the National Coalition on Healthcare (NCHC).
Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, LD, is a Nashville, TN-based dietitian and owner of Chelsea LeBlanc Nutrition.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Information. Mount Sinai