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Hummus is Good For You!

Hummus, that popular Middle East staple made from chickpeas, is not only tasty, but also packs a nutritional wallop.

This is the finding of 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 (without genetic engineering) which are high in anti-oxidants, protein, and minerals, such as calcium. Anti-oxidants contribute to the prevention of heart disease and cancer. In their research at the Rehovot Campus, rats and goats were fed 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 food sources, such as soy, which points to the possibility of developing chickpea-based baby foods.

Finally, chickpeas also contain elements that prevent wrinkling of skin, which holds out promise for its use in developing ointments for skin care. The European Union has recognized the value of Hebrew University's research and has allocated more than $11/2 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. Additionally, cosmetic firms in Germany and France are working on the development of chickpea-based anti-wrinkle creams.

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