Falafel is a balled mixture of fava beans and/or chickpeas with added spices. It is traditional to the Middle East but enjoyed all over the world. It is often served accompanied by pita bread, salad, tahini sauce, hummus or other Middle Eastern foods. This is an excellent choice for vegetarians or people working towards a more plant-based diet.
Nutritional Value of Falafel
Be wary: most falafel is deep fried in oil which adds additional calories to your meal. You can try baked versions at home for a healthier choice.
1 patty, ~17 grams, homemade
- Calories: 57
- Fat: 3g / 5% DV
- Carbohydrates: 5g / 2% DV
- Protein: 2g
- Fiber: 1-2g
- Iron: 3% DV
- Magnesium: 3% DV
- Potassium: 3% DV
- Folate: 4% DV
Health Benefits of Falafel
Falafel is bean-based, so it provides all the benefits of beans! It provides the filling, satisfying part of chickpeas in addition to being a high quality protein. Falafel has an Amino Acid Score of 111, which means that is a complete/ high quality protein. For people looking for a low fat/low calorie protein source, this is great addition to your diet. High quality proteins help your body replace all the tissues, organs and cells in the body that are constantly being broken down and replaced.
Women ages 19 - 70+: 46g per day
Men ages 19 - 70+ : 56g per day
Additionally, people usually eat more than one patty, so if you have three balls in a meal, you are getting ~6g of fiber which is about 48% of your Daily Value (DV), or the total amount an average person requires every day. High fiber diets are associated with decreasing your risk for cancer and heart disease, as well as helping manage diabetes.
Women under 50: 25 g per day
Women 50+: 21g per day
Men under 50: 38g per day
Men over 50: 30g per day
Meal Ideas for Falafel
- Add hummus and lots of veggies to your plate to have protein rich, nutrient dense meal
- Try grilling it and topping with mango salsa
- Break apart the balls and use as a salad topping
- Use pre-made mix as a breading for baked or fried foods like fish
- Prepare it and use as stuffing for a holiday favorite
- Bake inside bell peppers for a protein-filled meal
- Add to your sandwiches as a meat replacement (consider a "meatball" sub sandwich!)
Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.