Greek food can be healthy if it is served modestly, in small proportions, and not served with tons of sauce and rice. Unfortunately, in many cases, Greek restaurants throughout America opt for tasty and delicious instead of healthy and smart. Here are five popular dishes that may surprise you when it comes to saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calorie counts.
Greek Salad. Don’t let this salad fool you with the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The salad dressing is filled with high calories and sodium. The feta cheese that makes the salad is also very fattening. One cup of this salad can be as high as 400 mg of sodium and add 30 mg of fat per one cup of crumbled feta cheese.
Moussaka. This casserole may have eggplant as one of its main ingredients, but it is also filled with fatty layers of beef or lamb meat. In addition, each layer is saturated with béchamel sauce which is made of butter, milk, and egg yolks. One serving can be as high as 800 calories and almost 50 grams of fat.
Gyro. This pita bread sandwich is comprised of meat, yogurt sauce, veggies, and feta cheese. It is very high in sodium over 1,000 mg. It may be high in protein, but the fat content is around 14 grams and cholesterol is near 130 grams.
Spanakopita (spinach pie). Don’t let the spinach fool you. This Greek dish is complied of layers and layers of paper-thin phyllo dough with tons of butter being slathered on. Add feta cheese, oil, and egg and you have a cholesterol clog waiting to happen. One dish can be almost 500 calories, almost 40 grams of fat, and 125 grams of cholesterol.
Baklava. Those tiny, triangle desserts come in a tempting flaky package, but it is also high in fat and calories. Like the Spanakopita, it is based on phyllo dough that is saturated with tons of melted butter. The nuts and spices to this tiny piece of heaven may be good for your health, but combined with a honey and sugar syrup, it leads to over 500 calories per slice, 600 grams of sodium, and 20 grams of fat.
Jayne Hurley and Bonnie Liebman
A Mediterranean Mixed Bag, Greek Food