Although the healthfulness of snacking remains unclear, many American adults include snacking as a significant part of their diet. A study examined the effects of afternoon snacking on diet quality, appetite, and glycemic control. Specifically, the authors looked at hummus, which is low in sugar and highly nutritive.
This study included 39 adults with an average age of 26 years and average body mass index of 24.4 kg/m2. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the following snack patterns for six days: hummus and pretzels (HUMMUS; 240 kcal; 6 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate [2 g sugar], 11 g fat); granola bars (BARS; 240 kcal; 4 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate [16 g sugar], 9 g fat); or no snacking (NO SNACK). On the seventh day, all participants received a standardized breakfast and lunch. Three hours after lunch, participants received their assigned snack. Throughout the afternoon they were surveyed about appetite, satiety, and mood. Participants ate a standardized dinner three hours after snack. They were also provided an evening snack cooler to be eaten as desired during the evening. Twenty-four-hour continuous glucose monitoring was conducted on all participants.
Participants in the HUMMUS group reduced snacking on desserts by about 20% compared with the NO SNACK (P=0.001) and BARS (P<0.001) groups. Dietary compensation was greater for HUMMUS than BARS (122% vs. 72%; P<0.05). HUMMUS reduced hunger, desire to eat, and prospective food consumption by about 70% compared with NO SNACK (P<0.05 for all), while BARS did not. HUMMUS and BARS both led to about 30% greater satiety compared with NO SNACK (P<0.005 for both). HUMMUS, compared with BARS, led to an estimated 5% reduction in afternoon blood glucose concentrations (P<0.05).
“Long-term trials assessing the effects of hummus snacking on health outcomes are warranted,” the study authors concluded.