3 Entrees to Avoid at Mediterranean Restaurants

It can sometimes be difficult to decipher the menus at Mediterranean restaurants to determine what items are good for you, and which will send you straight to the treadmill. We often hear that Mediterranean food is some of the best out there – and while this is true if the food is prepared in its intended way, healthy recipes are often ruined by the addition of cheese, salt, butter and cream. Below are three of the worst items you can order at a Mediterranean restaurant. Skip these choices for a meal that is both healthy and nutritious!

1. Gyros

Gyros are one of the most deceiving food choices at Mediterranean restaurants. It’s basically grilled meat on a pita – how bad can it be? Research has found that it is, indeed, pretty unhealthy. To start with, let’s consider the pita. Most pitas made in the United States are made from bleached white flour, which has been stripped of any nutritional quality. Pitas are high in simple carbohydrates, meaning that they quickly cause a blood sugar spike, and a crash which will occur just as quickly. The meat in gyros is typically just as unhealthy as the pitas. Gyros are made with either beef or lamb that has been generously seasoned with salt and other additives. A typical five ounce portion will provide around 44 grams of fat, most of which is artery-clogging saturated fat. In addition, the salt content of most of the meat served in gyros is so high that it will provide you with an entire day’s worth. Most Mediterranean restaurants these days are offering a more “Americanized” version of gyros which provide a heavy dose of mozzarella cheese – as if gyros weren’t unhealthy enough to begin with!

2. Moussaka

Typically composed of fatty cuts of ground beef or lamb, fried eggplant and a heavy cream made with butter, milk and egg yolks, this selection is guaranteed to clog your arteries. This dish could be relatively healthy if prepared properly, and in all actuality, when made in Mediterranean countries it probably is. By using eggplant which has been grilled, boiled or broiled instead of deep-fried, cuts of chicken instead of lamb or beef, and a smaller serving of the sauce, this dish can cut down on the fat, calories and sodium content.

3. Spanakopita

Next up, the spanakopita, or spinach pie. This has to be good for you, right? It has spinach in it! While spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are crucial for good health and optimal growth, when prepared in most Mediterranean restaurants it comes soaked in butter and salt. Research has found that this dish can contain as much fat as a bacon cheeseburger! While the spinach does provide a high amount of dietary fiber, which is guaranteed to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time and prevent feelings of hunger, it doesn’t make up for the rest of the unhealthy ingredients in spanakopita.

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