Hummus is a creamy Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and sometimes garlic. Due to its delicious flavor and texture, it is a popular ingredient used in sandwiches, wraps, and as a dip for veggies, pita, and crackers. Hummus is generally nutritious, containing protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. However, there are questions about some ingredients and whether they could pose food safety risks for pregnant women.
Hummus gets its smooth and spreadable consistency from blending chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. Tahini is ground sesame seeds and is safe for pregnancy. Unfortunately, pre-made hummus and some ingredients, like tahini, have been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks in many years past due to harmful bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes. This is where the confusion on the safety of hummus stems from, although nowadays, you are much more likely to get sick from unwashed produce.
Pregnant women are a group that is more susceptible to foodborne illness due to a slightly suppressed immune system. Additionally, contracting a foodborne illness during pregnancy, like listeriosis, can have greater risks and complications.
In today’s post, I will explore the nutritional benefits of hummus and the potential risks to help answer the question: Can you eat hummus when pregnant? If so, how can expectant mothers safely include it in their diets?
Can You Eat Hummus While Pregnant?
Hummus can be a safe option for pregnancy when properly prepared and stored. Most pregnant people can enjoy hummus as part of a balanced diet if they follow basic food safety measures.
Chickpeas, which offer key nutrients like folate, fiber, iron, and some plant-based protein, constitute the main ingredients in hummus. Folate, in particular, is critical for preventing neural tube defects early in pregnancy. Due to its fiber boost, few grams of plant-based protein, and creamy texture, hummus can support balanced blood sugar levels and curb cravings. It’s a great plant-based spread or dip option for vegetarians and meat lovers.
That said, proper storage and handling are important when eating store-bought hummus. As I mentioned earlier, pregnant women are more susceptible to foodborne illness due to their weakened immune systems during pregnancy. Hummus is a spread that carries a small risk of contamination, especially if not stored appropriately. With that in mind, let’s explore some tips for reducing that small risk even more when eating hummus.
Tips for Eating Hummus During Pregnancy
Make your own hummus.
The safest way to enjoy hummus is to prepare it yourself at home. This allows full control over ingredients and preparation to ensure safety.
You can then store homemade hummus in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, making it a PERFECT food prep option to elevate your meals and snacks!
Choose store-bought hummus carefully.
For store-bought hummus, check “best by” dates and avoid purchases past the printed date or signs of spoilage like an unusual smell or texture.
Refrigerate after opening and finish within 4 days.
Stay on top of recalls and outbreaks.
Pay attention to foodborne illness outbreaks and food recalls. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shares this information on their website as it happens.
They also offer an email list for updates as outbreaks and recalls occur.
Eat it quickly.
Whether homemade or store-bought, pregnant women should finish hummus within a few days of preparation for maximum food safety. Also, be sure not to leave hummus sitting out and store it properly in the fridge.
Enjoy your hummus in moderation.
Hummus and other healthy store-bought snacks are fine to incorporate on a regular basis during pregnancy. Variety with food intake is key to exposing your body to various nutrients.
Wash your hands and surfaces.
Always wash hands, utensils, countertops, and containers that touch hummus to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illness. Proper cleaning is essential.
Provided you, hummus is generally safe during pregnancy.
In summary, pregnant women can absolutely include hummus in a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet by following certain food safety tips. The best practice for food safety is to make it yourself at home. Choose store-bought options carefully, and be sure to check expiration dates and use within a few days of opening. Enjoying hummus in moderation as part of meals like balanced sandwiches for pregnancy is a great way to incorporate this spread.
Check out The Prenatal Nutrition Library (TPNL) for all the information you need to maintain a healthy pregnancy and support your growing baby! We cover the details on topics like deli meats during pregnancy, soft cheese, lunch ideas, and more.
TPNL is your one-stop hub for ALL things prenatal nutrition that provides evidence-based, clear recommendations to ensure pregnant women have a feel-good pregnancy! Download it for free to test out HERE!