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Calories in Falafel

Leena Palande Feb 17, 2019
Although falafel has long been recognized as a popular Middle Eastern food, it is now available at every street corner. Read on, to know how many calories it contains and why it is included in the list of healthy foods.
Falafel is nothing but a fried ball or spicy patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans. It is often served in a 'pita' bread that has a specially created pocket for it or it is served wrapped in a flat bread called 'lafa'.
Falafel balls garnished with delicious salads, delectable pickled vegetables, drizzling with aromatic hot tahini-based sauces are just irresistible. They are so mouth-watering that people tend to forget about falafel calories!

Calories in Various Types of Falafel

Following figures are to be considered just as guidelines.
  • 1 patty (about 2¼" dia) (about 17 gm) - 60 Calories.
  • Homemade Falafel - 1 patty (about 2¼" dia) (about 17 gm) - 58 Calories.
  • Falafel Balls - serving size about 29 gm - 49 calories

Calories in Falafel Sandwich

  • Falafel pita sandwich without cheese sauce or condiments - 1 serving - 450 calories.
  • Pita Bread, Whole-wheat - 1 large (6½" diameter) ( about 64 gm) - 170 calories
  • Regular Sandwich - with pita bread and standard vegetable mix - 1 serving - 495 calories
  • Falafel Wrap - Hummus and Mixed Peppers - 1 serving - 100 gm - 240 calories
  • Falafel Mix - International Dishes - ¼th cup - 35 gm - 120 calories
  • Baked Falafel - Serving size - 234 gm - 376 calories
  • Fried Falafel - Serving size - 3 Balls - 226 calories

Health Benefits

In Arabic, the word 'falafel' means something with a fluffy or crunchy texture. Falafel can be a croquette (cylindrical fried food roll) of mashed fava beans or chickpeas and spices, or it can also mean sandwiches filled with fritters and topped with veggies and sauces.
In many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, pita, a round pocket bread is widely consumed. The steam creates the pocket as it leads to puffing up of the dough. After cooling, the bread flattens and you find a pocket in the middle.
While considering calories from patties, calories in pita should also be taken into consideration. In general, calories obtained from this dish are considered as healthy calories.
  • Chickpeas do not contain cholesterol and the amount of fat and salt obtained from them is very low.
  • Balls / patties made with chickpeas are high in protein, complex (good carbs that do not lead to severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels) carbohydrates, and fiber (that improves your digestive health).
  • They contain important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamins like Vitamin C, and B vitamins like thiamine, pantothenic acid and folate.
  • The fiber obtained from the dish helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Phytochemicals like beta-carotene help improve your immune system function.
Depending upon your daily calorie intake, your dietitian may allow you to incorporate it in your diet, even when you are on a weight loss diet. When eaten with salad, it is both satiating and healthy.

Ingredients and Preparation

Falafel, shaped like a ball or a flat burger, may contain onion, coriander, garlic, cumin, parsley, paprika, scallions, leeks, sesame seeds, salt and pepper/cayenne pepper along with chickpeas and/or fava beans. You can enjoy it as a snack, appetizer, or starter.
To make falafel balls, the beans are soaked with bicarbonate of soda, then ground together (not cooked) with onion, parsley and spices such as cumin and coriander. The mixture is then shaped into balls or patties and deep-fried. Mostly, sesame seeds are added to the mixture before frying.

Origin and Varieties

It is said that falafel originated in Egypt and soon gained popularity in neighboring countries. Israelis were the people who spread the recipe to Europe and the United States, sometime in the 1970s. The dish has become so popular that now you get a 'McFalafel' at some places!
In Egypt, falafels made from fava beans are popular while in other Middle Eastern countries, use of chickpeas is predominant. In Jerusalem, you can have historically made falafel (only from chickpeas). Thus, there are variations in the recipes and falafel calories may vary according to its ingredients and according to the method of preparation as well.
Falafel is a common street food or fast food in the Middle East, which is eaten all over the world now. It has gained popularity among vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Prepackaged mixes are available in almost all health-food and grocery stores. Calories offer you energy but as falafel is high in sodium, limited consumption is recommended.