8 Health Benefits Of Falafel: Recipe, Side Effects, And More

Check your facts again before adding this deep-fried vegan snack to your regular diet.

Reviewed by Mayuri Aavula, Nutritionist Mayuri Aavula Mayuri AavulaNutritionist facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Payal Karnik MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2.5 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2 years

Falafel is a deep-dried food made of mashed chickpeas. This traditional Middle Eastern snack is rich in fiber and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals essential for your health. The benefits of falafel can be attributed to its rich nutrients. It can be eaten alone or served with salads, veggies, or pickles. This gluten-free snack is popular among vegans and vegetarians. This article explores falafel nutrition profile, its health benefits, and some recipes. Keep reading.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Falafel

What Is It?
A type of deep-fried snack made from mashed chickpeas belonging to Middle-Eastern cuisine.

What Are Its Benefits?
A rich source of proteins and vitamins, it may help weight management, and prevent heart diseases and anemia.

Who Can Consume It?
Anyone can consume it if they are not allergic to chickpeas.

How Often?
It can be eaten daily but in moderation.

It may cause indigestion and bloating in some people.

What Is Falafel?
Patty-shaped falafel
Image: Shutterstock

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, says, “Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty-shaped fritter made of mashed chickpeas. It is a popular Middle Eastern dish.”

It is prepared with dried ground chickpeas or fava beans or a mix of both. The legumes are soaked in water, crushed, kneaded, seasoned, and then fried in hot oil. Traditional recipes also contain ingredients like onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, and sesame seeds. Sometimes, baking soda is added to make the batter airier (1).

protip_icon Trivia
Falafel is the national food of Palestine, Egypt, and Israel.

Mitri adds, “Overall, falafel is a healthy vegetarian food. It is primarily made of chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of the two. These beans are high in protein, soluble fiber, and complex carbs to provide energy and enhance satiety.” The next section gives a proper breakdown of the nutrients in falafel. Scroll down.

Falafel Nutritional Facts

A 17 g falafel patty contains (2):


56.6 kcal


2.26 g


5.41 g

Total lipids (Fat)

3.03 g


9.18 mg


99.4 mg


13.9 mg


50 mg


32.6 mg


0.58 mg

Rhyan Geiger, RDN, states, “Falafel contains nutrients like protein, B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Because of its protein content, it’s a popular choice among vegans and vegetarians.”

Since falafel is fried, its oil content is high, which may be a cause for concern. However, there are a few other cooking methods to minimize the oil content and make it healthier.

Geiger continues, “The health aspects of falafel may be questioned because of the preparation methods. If deep-fried in oil, they may be higher in fat and calories. Instead, choosing to bake falafel increases the nutritional benefits.” Here is the easiest and tastiest way to bake crispy falafel at home.

How To Make Healthy Falafel

Woman shapes balls of falafel in her kitchen
Image: Shutterstock

What You Need

  •  1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  •  ½ cup of white onion (finely diced)
  •  1 cup of fresh parsley
  •  1 cup of fresh cilantro
  •  ¼ teaspoon of black pepper (freshly ground)
  •  1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  •  1 teaspoon of coriander
  •  2 teaspoons of cumin
  •  2 teaspoons of baking powder
  •  2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
  •  1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  •  1 teaspoon of salt or as needed

How To Prepare

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2.  Coarsely blend chickpeas, onions, parsley, and cilantro in a mixer.
  3.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, baking powder, and flaxseed. Blend until smooth.
  4.  Grease a large baking sheet.
  5.  Roll the falafel mixture into balls and place them evenly on a baking sheet. Flatten each ball into a disc (or any shape you want).
  6.  Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the patties and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7.  Serve with pita bread or salad.

This is one of the healthiest ways to prepare falafel at home. This can be had as a falafel wrap or a falafel sandwich. Other than the cooking method, the ingredients, especially chickpeas, in falafel make it quite healthy.

Alison, a blogger, who was experimenting with different protein sources, made falafels with lentils instead of chickpeas. Sharing her experience, she wrote, “I, personally, preferred the chickpea version of the falafel because they were chewier and softer, but my husband liked the lentil version. The lentils made a heartier bite, but it was very dense and dry (i).”

protip_icon Fun Fact
June 12th is celebrated as International Falafel Day every year to encourage people who have never tried falafel to give it a try!

Its ingredients have been vouched for, as a snack is falafel healthy? Read on to know its health benefits!

Health Benefits Of Falafel

Hand dipping falafel in seasoned yogurt
Image: Shutterstock

1. Rich In Proteins

Chickpea-based falafels are a good source of protein, and the body readily absorbs chickpea proteins than proteins from other beans. They can be a good substitute for non-vegetarian protein. Also, chickpeas contain dietary fiber, folate, beta-carotene, and other healthy fatty acids (3).

2. May Help Control Weight

Legumes like chickpeas and fava beans are considered low-GI foods (a glycemic index of 55 or less). A study showed that falafel, served with pita bread, pickle, salad, and tahini sauce, had an average GI of 33. A diet comprising nutrient-balanced low GI foods promotes greater weight loss and is crucial for preventing several associated metabolic syndromesi  XA group of health conditions, such as high blood sugar, abdominal fat and high cholesterol that may lead to severe heart diseases. (4), (5), (6).

3. May Promote Heart Health

Chickpeas are widely used in the Mediterranean diet. A study showed that chickpea supplementation could reduce the total serum cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), two biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases. Legume-rich diets also help lower systolic blood pressurei  XMeasures the amount of pressure in the arteries during the beating of the heart. It is used to measure the blood pressure of an individual. and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions (7).

4. Good Source Of Vitamins

Chickpeas contain important vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, folate, and beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. They also contain tocopherols, vitamin B complex, and folic acid. A study evaluated authentic falafel obtained from Israel and found that it contained 0.30 mg of thiamin (vitamin B1) per 100 grams. In other words, about five falafels can cover 40% of your daily recommended thiamin intake (8), (9), (10).

5. May Prevent Anemia

Chickpeas are rich in vitamin B12 and folate, two crucial nutrients required for making red blood cells (erythropoiesis). A low red blood cell count may cause anemiai  XA common condition in which the body lacks red blood cells, i.e., low hemoglobin, and causes fatigue and frequent dizziness. , leading to circulation issues in the body (3), (11). While falafels are not proven to prevent anemiai  XA common condition in which the body lacks red blood cells, i.e., low hemoglobin, and causes fatigue and frequent dizziness. , consuming chickpea-based falafels may help maintain the folate and vitamin B12 levels in your body.

6. Is Gluten-Free

Traditional falafel is made with chickpea flour or fava beans, or both. These legumes are gluten-free and rich in dietary fiber. Falafel can be a healthy addition to a gluten-free diet to cover up the deficiency of other nutrients (especially fiber). It is also good for people with celiac disease (a digestive disorder triggered by gluten) (12), (13).

7. May Improve Bowel Movement

The dietary fiber in chickpeas helps smoothen bowel movement, increases the frequency of defecation, and softens the stool composition to prevent constipation (7).

8. May Prevent Diabetes

Research suggests that incorporating falafel into your diet could play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. In Lebanon, where it poses significant public health challenges, a study explored the link between dietary patterns and the odds of developing type 2 diabetes among Lebanese adults. The ‘traditional Lebanese’ dietary pattern, characterized by the consumption of traditional Lebanese dishes and, notably, falafel, showed an inverse association with the odds of type 2 diabetes (14). While more research is needed, these results hint at the preventive power of dietary choices in combating diabetes, highlighting the importance of a balanced diet that is rich in wholesome foods, such as falafel.

You can store falafel or its batter for several days or months if you follow proper storage techniques. Here are a few tips from the experts.

Storage And Food Safety

Vacuum-sealed falafel balls
Image: Shutterstock

Geiger recommends, “To store falafel, place it in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or freezer for up to 6 months. There are no food safety concerns with falafel unless eaten past expiration.” However, ensure that you store the batter or falafel patties in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

The consumption of street food, including falafel, is often associated with health, safety, and regulatory issues mainly due to unhygienic methods.

Elizabeth Barnes, MS, RDN, LDN, explains, “As with any food, make sure you follow proper food handling. The CDC is a great place to find out more about food safety.”
She suggests the following food safety tips for cooking falafel:

  •  Wash your hands thoroughly before cooking.
  •  Do not eat uncooked falafel batter.
  •  Cook thoroughly.

Falafel is prepared using a variety of ingredients, and some may cause allergies.

Possible Side Effects And Allergies of Eating Falafel

Woman with allergic rashes on the neck due to falafel
Image: Shutterstock
  •  Sesame seeds are a common allergen and often used in dips and sauces served with falafel dishes. They may cause severe allergic reactions in people allergic to them (14).
  •  Even chickpeas may cause allergic reactions. Barnes explains, “Some people, particularly those of Mediterranean or Indian ancestry or an existing allergy to another legume, may have an allergic reaction to chickpeas. Symptoms experienced may include rashes, hives, and skin redness.” Studies have also confirmed this claim as lentils, chickpeas, peas, and green beans have been described as potential allergens in Mediterranean countries and India (16).
  •  Another possible side effect Mitri mentions is, “Those who are sensitive to fried foods or fiber may experience bloating or indigestion.” Certain carbohydrates in chickpeas can also cause flatulence. We lack the enzymes to digest them, so they accumulate in the large intestine, resulting in a gas buildup (3).

Mitri suggests, “If you’ve never had falafel before, try a small portion first to make sure you don’t experience these side effects.”

Infographic: 5 Reasons To Add Falafel To Your Diet

Falafel is not only a delight for your tastebuds but also your health. This mouthwatering Middle Eastern treat is an excellent plant-based alternative for vegetarians and vegans and its fiber-rich ingredients can aid in digestion. Check out this infographic to learn how this tasty snack may improve your health.

5 reasons to add falafel to your diet (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Falafel is a deep-dried vegan snack made from mashed chickpeas and is widely enjoyed in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, protein, and dietary fiber that help treat many ailments. Falafel benefits your health in many ways. The intake of this gluten-free snack may help control weight, promote heart health, prevent anemiai  XA common condition in which the body lacks red blood cells, i.e., low hemoglobin, and causes fatigue and frequent dizziness. , and improve bowel movement. However, it may cause allergic reactions in some people who are allergic to chickpeas and sesame seeds. Hence, check the ingredients list before consuming this snack. Consult your doctor in case of emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is falafel a superfood?

Yes. Falafel is considered a superfood. In addition, the presence of various health-promoting ingredients like chickpeas and sesame seeds makes it a healthy addition to one’s diet.

Can you eat falafel every day?

Falafel is a good source of protein, fiber, and several micronutrients. But it is high in fat too. Hence, if you limit your fat intake from other foods, you can eat falafel every day.

Can falafel be eaten cold?

No. Falafel must be eaten hot and fresh.

Is falafel an appetizer?

Yes. Falafel is considered an appetizer. It can be paired with many ingredients and served as the perfect one-bite appetizer.

Is falafel from Egypt?

Yes. Falafel originated in Egypt.

Key Takeaways

  • Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern deep-dried vegan snack made from mashed chickpeas.
  • It is a good source of proteins, B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber.
  • Baked falafel may prove to be a healthier option with host f benefits such as promoting gut and heart health.
Falafel Benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Curious about the health benefits of falafels? Delve into the nutritional value and potential health perks of this popular Middle Eastern dish. Watch now and satisfy your falafel cravings!

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Falafel: A Meal with Full Nutrition
  2. FoodData Central
  3. Achievements and challenges in improving nutritional quality of chickpea
  4. Glycemic index and obesity
  5. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008
  6. Consumption of Traditional Saudi Foods and Their Estimated Glycaemic Index and Glycaemic Load
  7. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus
  8. Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review
  9. Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels
  10. Vitamin composition of ethnic foods commonly consumed in Europe.
  11. NEW INSIGHTS INTO ERYTHROPOIESIS: The Roles of Folate Vitamin B12 and Iron
  12. Complimenting gluten free bakery products with dietary fiber: Opportunities and constraints
  13. Celiac disease: Overview and considerations for development of gluten-free foods
  14. Dietary patterns and odds of Type 2 diabetes in Beirut Lebanon: a case–control study
  15. Falafel burger anaphylaxis due to sesame seed allergy
  16. Allergy to Peanut Soybean and Other Legumes: Recent Advances in Allergen Characterization Stability to Processing and IgE Cross-Reactivity
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.

Latest Articles