As a dedicated carnivore, I’m always open to trying out different cuisines. Ever since I vacationed in Greece a decade ago, Greek dishes have held a special place in my heart, especially gyros. However, I often wondered whether gyro meat is healthy.
To get an answer, I spent days browsing through the online data on gyro meat, its nutritional profile, and its impact on our health.
Here’s what I discovered.
- While gyros are healthy, they still contain saturated fat.
- Gyro meat is generally made of lamb meat, beef, or pork, blended with herbs and spices.
- Gyros are low in carbohydrates and fat and high in protein.
What Is in Gyro Meat?
A mix of red meat, like beef and lamb meat, is in gyro meat sold in America. This differs from the dish’s home country of Greece, where pork is typically used.
The exact mix of meats varies from restaurant to restaurant, and it may include other proteins such as chicken. Whichever meat is chosen, they usually blend it with herbs and spices to create the gyro's signature flavor.
Typical seasonings include oregano, garlic, thyme, onion powder, rosemary, cumin, paprika, salt, olive oil, pepper, and coriander.
Besides the spices and herbs listed above, this meat can contain other flavoring ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, or cheese.
Gyro Meat Nutritional Benefits
Because no single combination of meats makes a gyro, it isn't easy to provide exact gyro nutrition facts. A chicken gyro will have different facts than a gyro with lamb meat.
Certainly, if you eat lamb in your gyro, you will get more calories than in a typical chicken gyro made from chicken breast. The lamb has higher fat and cholesterol, while the chicken portion has a lower fat content and is low in calories .
Generally, however, the meat itself makes a healthy meal. This is because it has healthy fats and contains a good amount of high-quality protein.
In fact, the meat itself has nearly zero carbs, making it good for a low-carb diet like the keto diet.
For example, one source states that three ounces of gyro meat contain:
- 219 calories
- 14 grams of fat
- 72 mg of cholesterol
- 20 grams of protein
- 2 grams of carbohydrates .
Of course, how many calories are in the gyro will be different once you add the meat to the gyro sandwich with its bread, tzatziki sauce, and other ingredients.
The fat and cholesterol will increase in a gyro wrap to 445 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 100 mg of cholesterol .
So while gyro meat itself is healthy, it's important to remember that adding toppings to your sandwich can add saturated fat content and calories.
Also Read: Nutrients Only Found in Meat
Is Gyro Meat Good for Your Health?
Yes, gyro meat is generally good for your health if eaten as part of a balanced diet.
1. High in Protein
Like other red meats, gyro meat has abundant protein, which can help rebuild and repair tissues in your body. Protein also has essential amino acids to build muscle, so if you want to get stronger, adding gyros to your diet can help you reach your goals faster .
Additionally, protein helps keep us feeling fuller for longer periods, so if you struggle with overeating or unhealthy snacking between meals, eating foods like gyros can help with that as well.
2. Low in Fat
Gyros are low in total fat compared to other types of meat, like steak or bacon. Their low cholesterol content levels spike as other fatty meats can .
Because it's lower in fat than many other proteins, it may also be easier on your digestive system. This makes it perfect for those who have difficulty digesting higher-fat proteins.
3. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Gyros also contain various essential vitamins and minerals. These include:
- Vitamin B12, which helps produce the body’s red blood cells
- Iron, which helps carry oxygen around the body
- Zinc, which contributes to healthy immune function
- Magnesium, a crucial nutrient that helps maintain strong bones
These elements combine to make this meat a healthier choice than others .
Cooking Gyro Meat
Gyro meat is cooked slowly on a vertical rotisserie until it develops an even crust while remaining juicy on the inside.
This process helps to lock in moisture while ensuring that all surfaces get equal exposure to heat from the rotisserie's heat source.
The cook can change the rate of roasting by modifying the intensity of heat, the gap between the heat source and the meat, and the speed of spit rotation, thus creating a variety of cooking speeds.
Fat drips into the meat as it spins around the rotisserie over several hours, adding flavor and moisture. The meat is then shaved away from the rotisserie and used to fill the gyro.
Assembling a Gyro
Once the meat is ready, it's time to assemble everything. Most restaurants start by taking warm pita bread and layering it with healthy ingredients like lettuce leaves, tomato, and cucumber slices.
They may also add feta cheese crumbles and creamy tzatziki sauce made with greek yogurt.
They top the juicy gyro sandwich with thin slices of meat. Then they will wrap everything up tight like a burrito so that none of its delicious contents can escape.
Of course, a healthier version that is low in calories for weight loss might not include the sauce and be served with non-starchy vegetables instead of french fries.
"The gyro is a timeless classic. It's a Greek classic, and it will always have a following.
- Bobby Flay, Chef
Is Gyro Meat Healthier Than Chicken Meat?
Gyro meat is not healthier than chicken meat. Chicken gyros have less fat, but when cooked in a rotisserie style, gyro meats like lamb and beef are close.
Is Gyro Meat Processed Meat?
Gyro meat is not considered processed meat because it typically does not contain added preservatives. Although the meat may be ground and blended with spices, it is still a whole food.
Is a Gyro Junk Food?
No, a gyro is not junk food because it is made with natural ingredients and does not contain added preservatives, sugars, or artificial flavors. Additionally, gyros are high in protein and naturally low in fat, making gyros healthy for those looking to improve their heart health.
Should You Eat Gyro Meat?
The gyro is a delicious and nutritious option for a well-balanced diet. Eating gyros can help you stay healthy and feel fuller for longer while providing the body with essential nutrients.
Of course, the foundation of a delicious gyro is the gyro meat itself, so it's important to make sure you're getting the highest-quality, tastiest ingredients.
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