Monday, December 8, 2008

Another "because" to put on my long list of reasons to eat hummous

All of my clients know that of all the foods on the famous internet glycemic index list, hummous is the one that scores the most favorable. It's got garbanzo beans, a great high protein/carb combo food, olive oil, a healthy fat...and in many cases, tahini, which is also packed with health potential.

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, and sesame seeds contain a compound called sesamin. Sesamin has been found to help take vegetarian omega-3's and convert them into the omega-3's more commonly associated with fish oil. This conversion almost always exists to some degree, but nutritionists have always questioned whether the conversion is efficient enough to provide adequate DHA and EPA for human needs.

One interesting disclaimer I should add here...this conversion was tested in salmon as a potential way to increase the DHA content of salmon. The process has yet to be proven in humans. Even so, it doesn't seem like it would hurt to add a little bit of sesame seed to your own program. It's when sesame OIL is extracted from seeds and used in large quantities that you can override the benefits with potential disadvantages.

I don't know if I'm ready to say if you eat hummous you can stop eating fish, but I can say that hummous definitely helps to improve your omega-3 balance, and it's certainly a most tasty way of doing it!

For some more ideas on how to get more sesame seeds onto your plate, check out one of my favorite websites, World's Healthiest Foods.

Trattner S, Ruyter B, Ostbye TK, Gjøen T, Zlabek V, Kamal-Eldin A, Pickova J. Sesamin Increases Alpha-Linolenic Acid Conversion to Docosahexaenoic Acid in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) Hepatocytes: Role of Altered Gene Expression. Lipids. 2008 Nov;43(11):999-1008. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

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