Falafel is an excellent plant-based protein primarily made from chickpeas. It is the perfect food for a vegan who enjoys deep-fried protein food with flavorful spices and fresh herbs. Falafel has its roots in the Mediterranean and Middle East region and is considered the national food in Israel.
Falafel is traditionally made by making small round balls from ground chickpeas and deep-frying them. Health enthusiasts also have the option of baking to reduce the fat content. Today we’ll look at falafel nutritional facts and common questions you may have regarding this soul-satisfying food.
Falafel Nutritional Facts
Falafel contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates from chickpeas; it also has significant amounts of soluble fiber that helps to reduce the bad cholesterol from your body. Chickpeas are also rich in calcium, iron & potassium, making falafel a superb vegetarian food to replace meat. The high fat content in falafel is a result of deep-frying.
Let’s look at specific falafel nutritional figures provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Data Central of 100g falafel — equivalent to six small falafel balls:
- Calories: 221g
- Protein: 10.6g
- Fat: 9.73g
- Carbohydrates: 22.1g
- Calcium: 53 mg
- Iron: 2.92 mg
- Potassium: 292 mg
- Sodium: 381 mg
Falafel made with natural spices & herbs has significant amounts of other micronutrients such as riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin B6, zinc, pantothenic acid & thiamine.
Is Falafel Gluten-Free?
It depends on the additional ingredients used. Chickpeas and the spices used in making falafel are gluten-free, but most pre-packed falafel mixes and restaurants use wheat flour as a binder. If you want to make falafel at home, make sure the brand of falafel mixture is gluten-free. When ordering from a restaurant, you can request a gluten-free falafel and require the chef to take precautionary measures to prevent cross-contamination.
Is Falafel Vegan?
Yes, falafel is considered vegan because it mainly contains ground chickpeas, herbs, spices, and onions. However, falafel is versatile; non-vegan restaurants use animal-based ingredients or serve it with dairy-based sauces. Order a vegan-friendly falafel meal at one of our vegetarian restaurants or ensure the recipe you use doesn’t compromise your vegan diet.
What to Serve with Falafel?
You can serve falafel with tortilla, pita, and flatbread. It can also be a protein in a salad at a buffet table. Here are more foods you can serve with falafel:
- Tzatziki: A cucumber and lemon dipping sauce that adds more flavor to falafel
- Kimchi: The fresh vegetables and spices in kimchi complement falafel’s protein nature
- Israeli salad: This salad has parsley, onion, tomatoes, and cucumber—creating a balanced vegetarian meal when you combine it with falafel.
- Hummus: A dip or spread mainly made from chickpeas, garlic, tahini & lemon juice. This combination allows you to enjoy the chickpeas in ground and whole form.
Is Falafel Keto?
Yes, if you control the portions you eat. A keto dieter needs approximately 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day, and one small falafel contains 5.41 grams of carbs. If a keto dieter eats more than three patties, it will mean they can’t eat other healthier foods like vegetables the rest of the day. That is why strict keto dieters don’t consider falafel a keto-friendly food. However, if you can control your falafel intake, you can occasionally add it as part of your keto food.
What Does Falafel Taste Like?
The chickpeas in falafel don’t have a strong flavor, so falafel usually acquires the taste of the other ingredients. These ingredients include:
- Herbs, such as cilantro & parsley
- Spices, such as cumin & coriander
Can Dogs Eat Falafel?
No, falafel is not a safe food for dogs. The added herbs and spices can cause terrible health problems. Garlic and onions commonly found in falafel cause severe anemia in dogs. High-fat content in falafel can raise your dog’s cholesterol levels and lead to weight gain, while the high sodium content can cause dehydration.
Is Falafel Healthy?
The health value of falafel depends on the method of cooking used. The chickpeas in falafel are highly nutritious because of their high protein and fiber content. These nutrients help build and repair muscle and improve gut health. As we said earlier, deep-frying falafel significantly increases its fat content so baking falafel reduces the fat content to make it an even healthier option.