10 Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Shawarma
Shawarma is a kind of sandwich that comprises meat (of any type), vegetables, and sauce wrapped in a loaf of pita bread. It is rich in nutrients and can serve as a dish or a snack. Indulge in the flavorful world of Shawarma—a delectable sandwich bursting with meat, veggies, and sauce encased in pita bread. Beyond its taste, Shawarma offers a nutritional punch, making it a versatile dish or snack.
Q: Is Shawarma healthy?
A: Yes, Shawarma is a balanced meal, providing essential vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. However, moderation is key, as excess consumption may contribute to elevated sodium, saturated fat, and calorie intake. Homemade options allow for healthier ingredient control.
Nigerians love snacks and grab-and-eat foods, commonly known as fast food. Most foods sold at fast food joints are snacks that have the reputation of being unhealthy because they are high in calories, saturated fat, and salt. This makes getting healthy food or snack from most fast food joints difficult. But then came the famous shawarma.
Although the process of making shawarma and the sauce are the same in Nigeria, the type of shawarma depends on the type of protein used in the filling. Types of shawarma are:
Preparing shawarma requires many ingredients that not only make it delicious but also rich in nutrients. The ingredients for preparing shawarma include:
Our body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly and stay healthy. The vitamins and minerals you can get from eating shawarma are:
Folate helps the body produce healthy red blood cells and promotes a healthy pregnancy by reducing the risk of birth defects in unborn babies.
Iron helps increase energy levels and promotes a healthy pregnancy. Iron deficiency may lead to anemia and fatigue.
Magnesium is essential for the regular function of the muscles. It can help to improve bone health, improve the quality of sleep, and lower high blood pressure. A lack of magnesium in the body can result in muscle spasms and cramps.
As electrolytes, they help regulate the fluid and blood volumes in the body. Sodium helps regulate blood pressure while potassium is necessary for proper muscle function. Both minerals are vital for keeping the heart healthy. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
It helps promote the formation of bones and healthy teeth. It also helps in regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeats, and ensuring normal blood clotting.
The meat in shawarma is an excellent source of protein, which is an important macronutrient. It helps build and repair tissues, thereby speeding up the healing process of wounds. It helps to promote the growth of muscle and prevent the loss of muscle mass, which is great for bodybuilders, athletes, and those trying to lose weight.
For a healthy, balanced diet, fat must be included. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids. The body needs fat to absorb vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Fat is high in calories, providing the body with a steady supply of energy. Shawarma is a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help reduce cholesterol levels and inflammation, thereby promoting heart health.
Carbs are a good option for active Nigerians who need an extra boost of energy. The Shawarma wrap or bread is a rich carbohydrate source, which when converted to glucose, serves as the main source of energy the body needs to function.
Fiber helps promote the function of the digestive system, preventing constipation and bloating. Fiber can help reduce the risk of obesity as it can help to keep you fuller for longer, so your calorie intake is reduced as you eat less. It also helps to control blood sugar levels as it slows down the rate at which sugar is released into the blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The nutritional benefit of your food or snacks is one thing you must always consider when making a healthy decision about your diet. Is your meal nutritionally balanced? Does it contain all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy? Compared to most fast foods in Nigeria, shawarma can be considered a balanced and complete meal as it contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, and the essential vitamins and minerals. It can also be filling.
Although shawarma has a lot of health benefits, that does not mean you should overindulge or turn it into your daily meal. Shawarma has its downside too, such as being high in:
The possibility of increasing blood cholesterol and sugar levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease, makes shawarma a bad food option for diabetics and those with heart conditions. One way to enjoy shawarma without the fear of the high salt content, saturated fat, and calories is to:
When you prepare shawarma at home, you have control over the ingredients you add to it. Here are some tips that can help you prepare a healthier shawarma:
Choose High-Quality Ingredients for Authentic Flavor:
To marinate your meat, you need to prepare a marinade that consists of:
People may avoid certain foods for different health reasons, such as:
There is a need for fast food joints and street shawarma vendors to consider those who want to enjoy Shawarma but cannot do so for health reasons. Special provisions should be made for such individuals like preparing shawarmas with reduced sodium (salt) options for health-conscious Nigerians and those with heart conditions.
Shawarma is a delicious and nutritious snack that can serve as a complete and satisfying meal. It contains all the nutrients you need for a healthy body. Its protein content can help you build muscle mass as it contains a good source of protein, while carbs and fat increase the energy level in the body. It contains several vitamins and minerals that can promote the proper function of your body’s systems.
Always remember that shawarma is like a coin. It has both good and bad sides. It is not what you should be eating often because of its high calorie, salt, and fat. Also, if you have a health condition you think may be worsened by consuming shawarma, Consult our Dietician for professional advice.
National Health Service. (2020). Vitamins and minerals
National Health Service. (2023). Fat: the facts
National Institute of Health. (2022). Magnesium. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
Bahadoran, Z. et al (2015). Fast Food Pattern and Cardiometabolic Disorders: A Review of Current Studies. Health Promotion Perspectives
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