Chickpeas and tahini, the major ingredients of hummus, contain essential amino acids which has a very similar effect to that of anti-depressants. Don’t be surprised if one day in the near future your doctor will prescribe you some hummus.
In a recent post I addressed the fascinating issue of hummus’s anti-depression and anti-anxiety potential. To be exact, hummus has some nutrients that may affect mood in certain dosages. This is somewhat similar to how an SSRI drug (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac, Seroxat or Cipralex works.
SSRIs prolongs the presence of free serotonin in the brain. The postponed absorption of serotonin (a crucial neurotransmitter) into the brain cells, would usually result in diminished symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety and compulsive behaviour, thus make one “happier”.
This is the idea behind that genre of medicines, which usually take affect after 3-6 weeks of use. There are also SNRI (or SSNRI) drugs, (like Simbalta) which usually work faster because they also work on the noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter which functions as a complementary to serotonin.
A different kind of medicine, which allegedly affects the same system, is the 5 HTP (or 5-Hydroxytryptophan). This drug is supposed to increase the production of serotonin, especially when administered with B6 which functions as a catalyser. It is said the effect of 5 HTP is almost immediate.
Theoretically, one can also influence these metabolic processes through a Tryptophan rich diet or with a diet that will also include other amino acid which are known as building blocks of serotonin and noradrenaline, mainly the Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. And this threesome is present in hummus and tahini.
Hummus and tahini also contain B6 and Omega 3, which was also found to have a strong positive effect over most mood disorders. The effectiveness of a hummus-bi-tahini diet as a mean of treatment is not yet proven, but most people claim to have a better mood after eating hummus. So there’s a chance that in the future doctors will prescribe less SSRI/SNRIs and more hummus.
More about hummus nutrition facts.