Which is healthier: A Gyro or a Falafel Greek Pita Sandwich?

At a Greek or Middle Eastern sandwich shop, should you order the gyro or the falafel? Gyro is a blend of lamb and beef, the falafel is fried chickpea patties.

Go with the falafel. The gyro has more saturated fat, more calories, and usually more sodium than the falafel —or chicken or vegetable sandwich fillings—on most menus.

Take Daphne’s, a “California-fresh” West Coast chain of more than 50 restaurants that lists calories on its menus and Nutrition Facts on its website.

Their classic pita sandwich has 730 calories and 17 grams of saturated fat (more than three-quarters of a day’s supply) if you fill it with gyro, but 560 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat if you fill it with falafel. The gyros’ 1,280 mg of sodium also tops the falafel’s 1,140 mg.

Greek Food

Ditto for the classic Greek salad. You’re talking 710 calories, 21 grams of saturated fat, and 1,500 mg of sodium for the gyro version. Compare that with a Greek salad with falafel: 540 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 1,360 mg of sodium.

And those numbers don’t include the 120 calories in the Classic Greek salad dressing or the 150 calories for the pita and tzatziki sauce that come on the side.

Tip: A salad or a pita sandwich with chicken has fewer calories than the falafel or gyro choices.

When United States Department of Agriculture researchers tested the meals at Greek restaurants in the Boston area, they found the dishes were even higher in calories.

[new illustration]

Other relevant links:

Find this article about eating out interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you’re not already subscribing to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.

 

4 Replies to “Which is healthier: A Gyro or a Falafel Greek Pita Sandwich?”

  1. This is an absurd article, focusing on two micro issues. It ignores that fact that:

    1) the gyro has twice the protein of falafel. it also has twice the potassium and vitamin c.
    2) either one is crappy because of the bread, which provides a high glycemic load.
    3) saturated fats aren’t bad in moderation. The bread will raise your triglycerides more.
    4) the article doesn’t consider which is more filling for the next few hours.

  2. I thought that there was something that was uniquely bad about fried foods – stuff like acrylamide, etc. – so I’m not sure it’s really fair to compare a fried food (falafel) with a non-fried food only on the basis of calories and fat?

    This points to the fact that maybe it would be worthwhile having a post specifically on fried foods – and if (and under what conditions) fried foods can ever be OK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *