Just how healthy is falafel?
Falafel is not just a staple of the Middle Eastern diet, it's a street food adored the world over. And vegetarians especially have long been known to worship those little golden balls - falafel is often a stand in for meat in wraps or burgers, as a vegetarian starter and as a way to bulk up a plant-based salad. But as much as we'd love to indulge in those mouthfuls of chickpea goodness daily, just how healthy is falafel?
Source of plant protein
Falafels are not just a good meat replacement for their delicious taste alone! Falafel is also a pretty decent source of vegetarian protein, each ball typically averaging around 2g which will quickly add up the more you consume (who can stop at just one?)
High in fibre
If you estimate a portion of falafel to be about four balls, you're looking at around 8g of fibre - an impressive 33% of the daily recommended fibre intake. The more fibre you can eat the better, high fibre diets reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your risk of colon cancer. Legumes like chickpeas may also improve the function of our blood vessels.
Good for girls
Listen up ladies, there's even more reason for you to tuck into some falafel. Falafel's main ingredient of chickpeas reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as reduce hot flashes post-menopause and they even protect the body against osteoporosis.
Watch the salt
Now, it's not all good news. An average falafel pita or wrap can come in at 1,500 milligrams of sodium – a full day’s worth of salt! Cut back on sodium by sharing your falafel with a friend or going easy on the pickled vegetables.
A falafel pita loaded with vegetables will still end up being a high fat meal purely because of the fact the falafel was fried. But there is still potential - deep-frying doesn't have to be a complete disaster if it's fried with plant-based hydrogenated unsaturated oil like olive, canola or grape seed oil. These oils actually reduce your blood cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease. If you make sure not to indulge in high fat foods for the rest of the day,there's no reason why a falafel sandwich can't be worked into your diet. Or you can make your own falafel at home where it can be lightly fried or even baked into an even healthier version of the one you already love.
If this article has worked up your appetite, check out out our roundup of the seven best falafel restaurants in Dubai and fala-fuel up!
Never miss a post from VeggieBuzz!
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest VeggieBuzz content delivered right to your inbox.