Falafel: A Vegetarian Delicacy
July 19, 2022
July 19, 2022
Falafel is a deep-fried chickpea-based snack. It can be classic street food or a fine-dine delicacy made with ground chickpeas (or fava beans), herbs, and spices, formed into a small patty-shaped fritter. It is crispy from the outside and delicious and moist from the inside. Usually, you can serve it with pita bread, salads, other sauces or dips, and pickles. This delicacy is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.
You can easily make falafel at home. Preparing falafel at home is healthier than buying it from shops or stores because store-bought falafels are mostly deep-fried. You can exclude the deep frying part at home and adopt other healthy cooking techniques such as baking or air frying.
Falafel is very popular among vegetarians. Since falafel contains chickpeas, it has several health advantages. However, it has some disadvantages too. It is deep-fried and considered to be fast food. The hazards of deep frying are known to everyone. The food not only gets covered with a layer of fat but also gets subjected to micronutrient losses. However, adopting other cooking methods like baking will help in providing more benefits than deep-fried ones.
The USDA provides the following nutritional value for one hundred grams of homemade falafel.
Falafel has chickpeas as the main ingredient. Hence, most of its nutrients come from chickpeas. Although the traditional way of preparing is deep-frying them, air-fried or baked falafels retain better nutritional properties. Falafels contain reasonable amounts of protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. However, they also have high calories, carbohydrates and sodium.
Low glycemic index (GI of 55 or less) foods include legumes such as chickpeas and fava beans, which are suitable for people with diabetes. Chickpeas in falafel can also help balance glucose levels, which is especially beneficial for pre-diabetics and diabetics.
In a study, researchers discovered that after eating chickpeas, participants’ blood glucose concentrations dropped between 29% and 36%. Although traditional falafel is deep-fried, it contains a good amount of nutrients, making it better than other deep-fried products like vadas, paranthas, potato chips, etc. So, it is a healthier snack option for people with diabetes.
Constipation, which hits approximately 20% of the population each year, can result from inadequate fibre in the diet. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans in falafel, prevent constipation. Chickpeas are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre. The fibre bulks up the stools and eases bowel movement.
Chickpeas have an impressive nutritional profile. They are rich in various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, they have phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium that help strengthen bones. The nutrients present in falafel may help in boosting mental health, helping with digestion, supporting stronger bones, and many more. It is also a good source of micronutrients that lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
The rich protein content in falafel can help lose weight. It is a filling snack that keeps you satiated for a long. In addition, it is a healthier snack than regular junk available in the market. However, its weight loss properties come from the high protein content, which prevents muscle loss and aids in burning more calories while digesting. However, it is typically deep-fried, which increases its fat and calorie content. Therefore, you should consume it moderately or choose air-fried or baked falafels.
Sodium levels in store-bought falafel mixtures can be high. According to studies, high sodium consumption can raise blood pressure. Therefore, if you are on any cardiac drugs or follow a low-sodium diet, you should consult a health expert before including it in your diet. However, making falafels at home will assist in regulating the quantity of salt.
Falafel is junk food. It is usually deep-fried in oil, which raises calorie and fat content considerably. According to a prospective cohort study, deep-fried food consumers have an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancer.
People who have chickpea allergies should avoid falafel. Sesame seeds are a common allergen in the dips that people frequently serve with falafel. According to studies, they can trigger severe allergic responses in individuals who are sensitive to them. In addition, lentils, peas, and green beans, these ingredients used in falafel, have also been identified to cause allergic reactions. Some common symptoms of an allergic reaction include an itchy mouth, skin rashes, shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea, etc.
Causes Gas and Bloating
Chickpeas contain oligosaccharides that lead to stomach upset and gas build-up. In addition, too much consumption of chickpeas causes discomfort in the abdomen.
The HealthifyMe Note:
Falafel contains a variety of healthy ingredients. However, since it is deep-fried in oil, it significantly raises calories and trans fat in the final product. Therefore, you must consume it in moderation. Also, people suffering from health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, etc., must limit their consumption to avoid health hazards. Baked or air-fried falafel are healthier versions of falafel.
The most typical approach to creating falafel is to wrap the ingredients into the shape of a flat patty, similar to a burger or a spherical ball, and then fry or bake it. The falafel can then be eaten like a burger, within pita bread, or separately. Since falafel can have a dry flavour profile, applying sauces can produce a more pleasing profile. Tzatziki, yoghurt dip, hummus, and tahini are popular garnishes. In addition, you may add veggie toppings like tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions.
Homemade Baked Falafel
Preparation Time: 12-13 hours
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Air Fried Falafel
Serving: 25 balls
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
One cup: 100 g/ml
Nutritional Facts per Serving
Note: Do not use canned or cooked chickpeas. Baking powder is optional. However, adding a little will make the falafel lighter and airier.
The HealthifyMe Note:
All-purpose flour is a common ingredient in making falafel, but you can use quinoa flour and brown rice flour as healthy substitutes. Unfortunately, falafel bought from shops and stores is not as healthy as homemade ones.
You should consume falafel just after cooking. However, you can store it in an air-tight container. Remember to cool it before storing it. You can also refrigerate it in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. You can freeze falafel patties for up to 3 months.
Falafel originated in the Middle-Eastern country of Lebanon. Falafel as a side dish is readily available under Mediterranean cuisine in any restaurant. You can eat it with sauteed mushrooms, salads, pickled turnips, kimchi, pita bread, and lemon rice. When it comes to pita bread, it is a must-have side dish with falafel.
Usually, falafel is rich in carbs, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and protein. These nutrients help control our blood sugar levels, prevent constipation and support weight management. But if you buy falafels outside, there can be a risk of deep-frying the food, which can cause obesity and heart disease. Also, those who have allergies should limit their consumption. Health experts and nutritionists suggest having homemade falafel rather than buying it from shops or packaged falafel.
A. Yes, falafel’s are junk food. However, baked falafels are an excellent substitute for fried ones as they have reduced oil and fat. Moreover, you can include or exclude ingredients according to your choice in homemade falafels. Which will assist in weight loss, prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.
A. Falafel contains healthy ingredients like chickpeas, peas, parsley, onion, etc., and has various health benefits, but it cannot be considered a superfood. Since it is deep-fried, it is considered junk food.
A. Falafel made traditionally, i.e., deep frying, is not good for muscle building. However, falafel made at home in the air fryer or baked is considered suitable as a post-workout snack. It is high in fibre and protein, and you can take it after gymming sessions.
A. Falafels are deep-fried foods made with mashed chickpeas. Falafels are rich in fibre. Therefore it provides energy with a long-lasting feeling of fullness. However, since it takes time to digest, our body slowly receives energy.
A. Falafel is good for health if it is not deep-fried. Falafel is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and protein with low-fat content. These aid in regulating blood sugar levels, provide nutrients and assist in managing weight.
Falafel in rich in soluble and insoluble fibre. The insoluble fibre draws water into the stools, making them softer, allowing them to pass quickly and preventing constipation.
A. Typical falafels are made with chickpeas and flour, which are high in carbs. 67% of the calories come from carbohydrates and others from proteins. According to USDA, 100 g of falafel contains 31.8 g of carbs and 13.3 g of protein. Thus, falafel is carbs.
A. The falafels are entirely made with plant-based ingredients. Hence, it is vegan. However, sometimes it is served with dairy-based products such as cheese or tzatziki sauce, making it non-vegan. Therefore, make sure of the ingredients used before eating it.
A. Yes, falafel is high in fibre; typical falafels contain chickpeas and all-purpose flour. A high-fibre diet can help decrease cholesterol, improve bowel movements, and protect gut health.
A. Certainly, falafel is good for the colon. The fibre present in chickpeas serves as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that are beneficial for the growth of microorganisms. The activity of healthy microorganisms increases, thereby supporting colon health.
A. According to USDA, 100 grams of falafel contains 333kcal. It is high in carbohydrates and is traditionally deep-fried; therefore, it has a high-calorie content. Baked or air-fried falafel will comprise lesser calories.
A. The nutritional profile of falafel is better if compared to hummus, according to USDA. Moreover, the sodium content of hummus (sodium- 607mg) is more than falafel (294mg). Hence, falafel is healthier than hummus.