Newcomers to the Mediterranean diet commonly ask, is pita bread healthy? I’m going to answer all your nutrition questions about pita bread and how it fits into the Mediterranean diet.
As you may have noticed, pita bread is a popular food on the Mediterranean diet. I’m a Mediterranean culinary dietitian so you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into pita bread nutrition and how to build balanced meals with pita bread.
What Is Pita?
Pita bread is a light, whole-wheat based flatbread. When cooked, the pita steams and creates a pocket in the center. The pita pocket can then be filled with spreads, salads, meats, and more.
Pita bread can be enjoyed like chips and served with dips such as hummus and tzatziki. I love using pita bread to scoop delicious Mediterranean dips. Pita is a relatively plain flatbread which makes it easy to pair with a variety of meals.
What Is Pita Bread Made Of?
Pita bread is made of wheat flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and a little sugar. Oftentimes, pita bread is made with whole wheat flour which has more nutrients than white flour.
Pita bread is relatively easy to make, you just have to wait for the dough to rise sufficiently. Once the dough is ready, the pita is shaped into disks and cooked on the stove or in the oven.
What’s The Difference: Naan Vs Pita Bread
Both naan and pita bread are popular types of flatbreads. However, there are important differences between pita bread and naan, such as the traditional ingredients, cooking methods, and origins.
Naan is generally a more doughy texture and softer because it is made with yogurt, butter, and sometimes eggs. Naan can be a great addition to meals for scooping soups and sauces or dips. I also love to use naan as a base for a quick and easy flatbread pizza.
Is Pita Bread Healthy?
The endless options at grocery stores can be overwhelming, right? There are so many types of bread at grocery stores, including tortillas, naan, sliced bread, pita bread and more.
Yes, pita bread can definitely be a healthy food to include in your meals. For regular bread and pita bread, I recommend whole wheat varieties which contain more fiber and nutrients.
Maybe you’re wondering, is pita bread healthier than regular bread? Good question! Pita bread isn’t necessarily healthier than regular bread. What matters more is the ingredients and portion sizes that you choose.
Some types of thin pita pockets have fewer carbohydrates per serving than bread but it depends on the brand and how much you eat. In addition, pita bread may have a little more protein than regular bread, which is great. But in both cases, I suggest adding another good source of protein to the meal.
Pita Bread Nutrition
As a dietitian, I’m always checking the ingredients and nutrition information. I look at both the ingredient list on products and the nutrition facts label.
The primary ingredient in pita bread is flour which provides mostly carbohydrates and some smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals. This means that pita bread is a good source of fast-acting energy for your body. There are usually 15-20 grams of carbs in pita bread, but make sure to check the serving sizes.
I teach clients about how to create balanced meals on the Mediterranean diet. So in this case, I want to remind you to include a high quality protein and healthy fats in your meal with the pita bread. This combination ensures that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs and it will keep you full for longer.
Angel Bakeries is one of my favorite pita bread brands! They have a whole wheat pita that is fluffy and made with great ingredients. On the nutrition facts label below, you will see that there are 5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein per serving.
What To Look For When Purchasing Pita Bread
Here are 3 things to keep in mind when buying healthy pita bread:
- Choose whole wheat varieties, which contain more fiber and nutrients.
- Choose lower sodium options, especially if you are watching your blood pressure.
- Select pita bread with higher fiber and/or protein content which will help keep you full.
It’s also important to check the serving sizes when comparing brands of pita bread because some will indicate that a serving size is ½ of the pita, while other brands indicate the serving size is the whole pita pocket.
How To Eat Pita Bread
Pita bread is very versatile and can be part of a healthy snack or meal. One of my favorite ways to enjoy pita bread is to warm it in the oven and serve it alongside fun dips as an appetizer.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve pita bread.
- Alongside crudité and dips like hummus, tzatziki, and whipped feta.
- Toasted and served open-faced: top with hummus, veggies, chicken, and feta.
- Slice it up, toast it, and add to salads like croutons.
- Enjoy it like a sandwich by filling the pocket with turkey, veggies, pesto and cheese.
Healthy Pita Bread Recipes
We also have a few great recipes that include pita bread. As you will notice, these recipes include good sources of protein and fiber. They are delicious and satiating!
- Egg Salad in Whole-Wheat Pita Pockets with Feta
- Healthy Mediterranean Breakfast Pita
- Harissa Chicken Pita
Interested To Learn More About The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet pyramid is a great resource to learn about how to build balanced meals and where pita bread would fit on your plate.