Education and Science of Food

The Science Behind Tapas

Tapas, the popular snacks or appetisers that originate from Spain have been studied quite extensively. Food experts have been intrigued not only by their growing popularity but also by their potential health benefits. Even though it may be hard to believe but not all snacks/appetisers - including tapas - are harmful to health by default. On the contrary, many food experts believe that they may promote health and help lose weight. This, however, doesn’t mean tapas are always a healthy choice.

An Interesting (and Lucrative) Origin

The origin of most dishes including tapas is shrouded in mystery. According to the widely accepted view, the popular snack/appetiser was originally a slice of bread or meat that was used to cover sherry glasses. It was allegedly intended to keep fruit flies away from sherry but it didn’t take long for the tavern owners and bartenders to figure out that they can also be used to increase thirst and sell more sherry. All they needed to do is to ensure they are enough salty or spicy.

Tapas Healthy? Food Experts and Dietitians Say Yes But…

As mentioned earlier, tapas aren’t necessarily unhealthy. What is more, most food experts and dietitians agree that they can be a very healthy choice. But as with most things, there is a but. The snack/appetiser went through radical changes from the salty and spicy bread or meat that was served in the 19th century Spanish taverns. But it is still often loaded salt, not to mention fat, carbs and calories.

If you want to enjoy tapas without a guilty conscience, it is of utmost importance to choose healthy alternatives to the ones that are usually served in restaurants. Examples include tapas that are low in sodium, carbs and fat - especially saturated fat. Instead, choose tapas that contain unsaturated fats such as those found fatty fish, olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, etc. Unsaturated fats are high in calories too but they have been shown to promote heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. And second, it is pivotal not to eat tapas as snacks or appetisers but rather as the main dish, especially if you want to lose weight. Even though they are supposed to be snacks/appetisers, they are quite high in calories. Even the healthy ones!