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Hummus instead of Prozac

A recent research conducted by Israeli scientists, leads to the conclusion that the chickpea was cultivation because of it’s special effect on mood. In a way, chickpeas are the ancestors of Prozac.

It is a known fact that chickpeas, as well as other legumes, are rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid which is a precursor of serotonin. The latter is a neurotransmitter strongly connected to well being and mood. Anxiety and depression, for instance, are known to correlate with serotonin deficiency.

Most modern anti-depressant medicine, works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain, and that includes the highly popular SSRI drugs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Drugs such as Prozac, Seroxat, Cipralex etc.).

So yes, a tryptophan rich diet may improve mood (up to some point) – and the scientist claim that this is why chickpeas became so popular in the ancient world.

tryptophan molecule

A Tryptophan molecule. Chickpeas are a great source.

The Cicer Arietinum (a.k.a “chickpea”) is the specie richest in tryptophan throughout it’s genus of plants.

The researchers (Professor Avi Gopher, Dr. Zohar Kerem, Professor Simcha Lev-Yadun, Dr. Shachar Abbo.) believe that cicer ariuntum was probably cultivated due to its’ rich tryptophan content. Ancient men were better skilled than us in recognizing healthy foods and getting their nutritional needs from foods – very much like we can see in animals.

Thousands of years later, hummus is a common dish in a growing number of countries because it tastes good – but also for it’s undisputed nutritional value. Ironically, in both cases, people tend to say eating hummus makes them “feel good”…

13 Comments on Hummus instead of Prozac

  1. Sence I began to increase my tryptophan intake from all soarce’s,I have almost completely stopped taken my anti depressant.Im still not jolly ollie and life is not a bowl of cherries but Im happier then I have been in years and getting better all the time.I’m really optomistic about the future

  2. Hey Spike, other readers,

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, but when dealing with changes in medications, always consult a physician before acting.

    I would encourage anyone to seek alternatives to drug therapy, but always under a physician’s guidance.

    All the best, enjoy your hummus (and bananas and quinoa and raisins and peaches and dates)

  3. But what about turkey and chicken? They also contain triptophan, if I’m not mistaken. Granted, this is a hummus blog, but shouldn’t you try to highlight where we might eat it most? (Meaning: the average American is more likely to eat chicken/turkey than hummus and so would relate this more keenly to their lives…?)

    Let me just say that it’s way past my bedtime, I stumbled here, scanned your entry, and hurriedly typed a response. I apologize if I don’t make much sense.

  4. with a big plate of hummus in front of you, how could one not be happy!

  5. all is joy…..

  6. I’m glad I found your blog. I love hummus and really appreciate the info you’ve put together at this site. I’ve just done a blog post at and included links to your Nutrition Facts and also to your Hummus Instead of Prozac.

    Thanks again for the good work you do!

  7. Jacque Conci // July 20, 2010 at 9:43 am // Reply

    The trouble with hummus is – I eat too much! I get started on it. Add a little extra olive oil on top and some kalamata olives and I’m set for the day. I usedto suffer from depression – ended up in hospital 12 years ago twice – I went almost completely vegetarian – fish and chicken occasionally – so had to start eating beans, especially garbanzos in my daily salads and hummus to get my protein – I’m a five times a week tennis player (Age 65). I wonder if my new diet of mostly beans and seeds for protein has helped my depression which is none-existent now, despite the doctors telling me “I had it for life”! Little they knew!

  8. Jacque Conci // July 20, 2010 at 9:47 am // Reply

    I recently saw on T.V.’s The Dr. Oz show that out of Garbanzos, Kidney Beans and White Navy beans, that the white navy were the most healthly. I find that hard to believe. I guess it’s what you need in your diet as to whether what is the most healthy for you. Jax

    Probably could make hummus out of White Navies, too, but why mess with the it if it’s not broken>?

  9. To Rachel:

    The different amino-acids compete with each other to go through the blood-brain barrier.

    The proportion of the different amino-acids in vegetable protein is different than in animal protein. These differences may affect the amount of Tryptophan that actually enters the brain and is transformed to serotonin.

    There are also other factors to bear in mind, like the availability of vitamins that help the enzimes to make the conversion.

  10. Bowl of hummus, bunch of warm pita bread and wast of black tea. There is nothing more you can wish.

  11. Right on. Thanks for bringing this into the conversation. This is why bananas and turkey are not as effective.

    You will like this article.

  12. It’s great that you are getting ideas from this post as well as from our argument made at
    this place.

  13. Hello, I’m from Russia. Sorry for my English. I learned a lot of interesting from your blog and your research, thank you! I can’t find research on the influence of chickpea on the mood, could you give a link to the study which was reported in the first part of the post.
    Перевести вGoogleBing

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