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.
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.
Other relevant links:
- What kind of foods do you eat on a Mediterranean diet? See: Mediterranean Diet Checklist
- Is it similar to Greek and Italian restaurant food? See: What is a Healthy Mediterranean Diet?
- Beware of the excess calories in paninis. See: Calories in Food: Are Paninis Worse for You than Other Sandwiches?
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