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Pass the Hummus, Please!

by Jewish Journal Staff

November 22, 2001 | 7:00 pm

The Middle Eastern spread, hummus (right), has many health benefits. Photograph by Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Middle Eastern spread, hummus (right), has many health benefits. Photograph by Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Hummus, the popular Middle Eastern staple made out of chickpeas, packs a nutritional wallop, according to a new study by Dr. Ram Reifen and Dr. Shahal Abbo of the faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Reifen, an expert on digestive illnesses and child nutrition, and Abbo, an expert in plant genetics, succeeded in creating hybrid chickpeas which are high in antioxidants, protein and minerals, such as calcium. Antioxidants contribute to the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

In their research at the Rehovot Campus, rats and goats were given a diet supplemented by chickpeas. The animals were found to have faster growth rates than those fed only animal proteins. In addition, chickpeas are less allergenic than other high-protein plant food sources, such as soy, which points to the possibility of developing chickpea-based baby foods. The European Union has recognized the value of Hebrew University's research and has allocated more than $1.5 million toward continuation of the work. Cooperative development is proceeding with Israeli and European researchers and commercial firms toward developing chickpea-based alternatives for milk powder for babies and children's foods.

Chickpeas also contain elements that prevent wrinkling of skin, which holds out promise for its use in developing ointments for skin care. Cosmetic firms in Germany and France are working on the development of chickpea-based anti-wrinkle creams.

HEBREW UNIVERSITY HUMMUS

1 can (16-19 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons parsley

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Store in refrigerator. Serve with pita bread and salad.

Yield: approximately 2 cups -- Staff Report

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