Why a kebab is a lot healthier than you think

If kebab shops are good enough for Taylor Swift to film a music video in, then they're good enough for us

Doner Kebab

by Kate Randall |
Published on

They may be the food of choice after a drunken night out – even guests at Victoria Beckham’s recent 50th birthday ended the evening by having one – but a kebab can actually be a very healthy takeaway choice. Nutritionist and food expert Rob Hobson says that the Turkish dish has developed an unfair reputation because of its association with people ordering a ‘dirty doner’ to soak up alcohol, but he says that couldn’t be further from the truth and you just need to be mindful when it comes to ordering.

Rob says, “The traditional Turkish kebab is actually very healthy and nutritious and can be a ‘good’ takeaway, you just have to make the right choices. To start with, it’s eastern Mediterranean food, which essentially is healthy, I think the problem is when you buy them off the High Street, often the meats are very high in fat and that can increase your cholesterol levels, which isn't good for your heart."

Doner Kebab
A kebab is Eastern Mediterranean food, which essentially is healthy ©Shutterstock

"They tend to contain a lot of salt because of the spices they use, the sauces, the marinade, etc., which is bad for your blood pressure. And then add in a side of chips and the pitta and that’s a lot of calories. But it’s so easy to pick the healthier option. Go for a grilled chicken shish rather than the doner meat. Have a wholemeal flat bread or wrap so you’ve got a bit more fibre. Look for the sauces that you could have on there instead, maybe tomato-based salsa, and instead of a heavy mayonnaise sauce, ask for a yogurt sauce. And always get a good selection of vegetables and salad to go with it – hot green peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cabbage, cucumber, etc. You could also opt for a side of rice or couscous rather than chips and even forgo the wrap or pitta altogether.”

Rob’s comments came after a new survey of Amazon’s 75,000 diverse workforce, as part of their Chatterbox series, to find the most popular dish among the teams taking part at Euro 2024. Turkey’s kebabs came out on top, followed by England’s beans on toast, and if kebab shops are good enough for Taylor Swift to film one of her music videos in, then Rob can see why they’re so popular.

Doner Kebab
Always get a good selection of vegetables and salad to go with your kebab ©Shutterstock

“I think there are many reasons why the kebab topped the poll with Amazon employees,” he said. “People find them extremely tasty and they work for all different occasions. With the Euros coming up, they are definitely a go-to snack after you’ve been to the pub to watch the match, had a few beers and then pop into the kebab shop. And although they’re Turkish, kebabs are just part of British culture now.”

But he says if you are keen to make your Turkish takeaway healthy, try and not get one when you’ve had a drink.

“After a heavy nigh, being healthy is the last thing on people’s minds. It’s very hard to make those choices when you've had a drink, you're very hungry and you're going to crave really salty food. So it is in the context that you eat it. Maybe if you're going in to eat it and you're not drunk, it is a different situation. If you were in Turkey or going to a Turkish restaurant, you could probably sit down and have a Turkish meal that was very healthy. But as a takeaway without alcohol being involved, it’s one of the better choices.”

The poll was launched to complement Amazon’s Euro Food Cup videos, that you can watch here.

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