Is Pita Bread Healthy for Weight Loss? All You Need to Know

A traditional part of the Mediterranean diet, this thin flatbread can support heart and brain health, healthy blood sugar levels, and digestion.

Laura M. Ali, MS, RDN, LDN
— Signos
Health & Nutrition Writer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

September 28, 2023
April 25, 2023
— Updated:

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Pita bread, called “pocket bread” or Syrian or Arabic bread, originated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It is a light, round bread that puffs while baking, forming a pocket once it’s cut open. According to some, pita and other flatbreads were some of the oldest types of bread made, originating over 10,000 years ago.1

A thin, light round bread, pita bread is lower in calories than other types of bread and often is made with a combination of regular and whole wheat flour, making it a good source of whole grains and rich in dietary fiber. 

In this article, we’ll look at what pita bread is, its nutritional and health benefits, how it is made, and different ideas for adding it to a healthy diet.  

What Exactly is Pita Bread?

Pita bread is a small flatbread that is cooked at a high temperature. It is made with flour, water, yeast, and a little salt. While it’s a yeast bread that needs time to proof, it can be pulled together pretty quickly and cooks fast once it is ready for the oven. 

The most important part is having a hot oven and baking stone or cast iron skillet that can be preheated. Placing the dough on a hot stone helps the outside cook quickly, trapping the moisture inside. As it heats, it expands and causes the bread to puff up when baking, forming a pocket. 

Pita bread is common in many Mediterranean diet meals. Each country may have a slightly different version, but they are all small, thin flatbreads made with a blend of whole wheat and regular flour, water, and yeast. Some may have added sugar, making them a little sweeter, and others may have added seasonings.  


Pita Bread Nutrition Facts

Pita bread is a light, delicate bread that is less dense and lower in calories and carbohydrates than many other types of bread. When made with whole-grain wheat flour, it also contains more fiber and antioxidants than regular bread. It may also contain slightly less sodium than other types of wheat bread.   

According to the USDA, one small, 4-inch whole wheat pita bread (28g), which is about the same weight as a slice of bread contains2 

  • Calories: 73 
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Protein: 2.7g
  • Sodium: 118mg 
  • Carbs: 15.7g
  • Sugar: 0.8g

Both refined and whole wheat flour contains polyphenols. These plant compounds can act as antioxidants and reduce damaging free radicals and oxidation in the body. Whole wheat flour has been found to have higher levels than refined wheat, but both increase in strength upon baking.3  

Pita bread is typically made from wheat flour. While safe and healthy for most people, It is not suitable for people with celiac disease, those who are gluten-sensitive, or anyone with a wheat allergy. 

Health Benefits of Pita Bread

Does eating pita bread provide any health benefits? Like other whole-grain foods, pita bread can and should be included in a healthy diet and may provide significant health benefits. Eating more whole-grain foods instead of refined grains has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.4 

The caveat here is that this applies to whole-grain foods. So, look for pita bread made with whole grains versus white flour.  

1. Improves digestion

Whole-grain bread, including pita bread, is fiber-rich and may help improve digestion. They act as a prebiotic, and some research has shown that they help speed up digestion and may help strengthen our gut microbiome allowing better absorption of nutrients.  

One study comparing a diet rich in whole grains to refined grains found whole grains increased the transit time of food through the GI tract and increased the number of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the large intestine.5 SCFAs are produced by fiber in the lower intestinal tract and help us digest carbohydrates and fat. They also protect the lining of the GI tract, helping to improve the absorption of nutrients, reduce constipation, and decrease inflammation.6 

2. Supports heart health

The American Heart Association recommends choosing whole grains over refined grains to help support heart health, and with good reason.7 Consistent research has shown that replacing whole grains with refined grains lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

In one large meta-analysis and systematic review of 45 studies, researchers found a 22 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease with three servings (90g) of whole grain products daily, including whole grain pita bread. Further reductions occurred with increased intakes of up to 225g per day.8 

In another study with people with Type 2 Diabetes, after eating a diet rich in whole grains for 12 weeks, they had reductions in their LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, as well as reductions in blood glucose.9

3. Lowers glucose levels

High-fiber diets, including the Mediterranean and DASH diets, have been encouraged as one way to support healthy blood sugar levels. Some fibers can act like a sponge in your GI tract, pulling in water and trapping carbohydrates, slowing digestion down. This also helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.10

A recent European study that followed individuals for over eight years found that people who ate at least 35g of fiber a day compared to 19g had reduced HgA1C, blood glucose, and decreased insulin levels.11 

Additionally, findings from the Nurses Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Study have found those participants with the highest consumption of whole grain foods had a 29 percent lower rate of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest intake of whole grains.12 

4. Aids in weight loss

Eating foods that are rich in fiber may be helpful for weight loss. There are a couple of ways we think this works. First, fiber helps slow the breakdown and absorption of food in our GI tract. This prevents a rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar which may affect your appetite. 

Secondly, slowing down the movement of food through your GI system helps you feel full longer, keeping those mid-day hunger pangs at bay. And finally, there is some research suggests that fiber-rich grains may help increase hormones in the GI tract that regulate our appetite.13, 14 

Research supports this too. Numerous studies have shown that people who eat more whole grain-rich foods have lower BMI, reduced body weight, and decreased waist circumference.13,15,16 

5. Supports a healthy immune system

We are learning more and more about how a healthy GI system is important in strengthening our immune system.17 Whole grains act as prebiotics, providing food for the healthy bacteria in our GI system. In some research, whole grains increased healthy bacteria in the GI system and decreased inflammatory bacteria. In the same study, measurements of immune response were also shown to be high.18 

One measure of inflammation in the body is the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP). It measures chronic inflammation and is also an indicator of heart disease. Research has shown that following a Mediterranean or DASH diet leads to lower CRP levels, and some research has shown a diet rich in whole grains also results in lower CRP levels.19 More research is needed, but more whole grains may help support a healthy immune system and keep inflammation down. 

6. Supports brain health

You may have noticed this: you work through lunch thinking you’ll power through to get that project done, but after a few hours, you notice your mind isn’t working. Is it brain fog, or is your brain crying out for help? Our brains are the most energy-using organ in our body, meaning they use a significant amount of glucose, and whole grains are one of the best sources.20

Whole grains, including multigrain bread like pita, provide a steady stream of glucose for the brain and an assortment of B vitamins that help balance our moods and provide energy. 

Beyond providing energy, there may be more to whole grains and our brains. Diets like the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets are rich in whole grains and other healthy foods that have been shown to delay or reduce the risk of cognitive decline.21,22 

Pita Bread vs. Bread: Is Pita Bread Healthier Than Other Types of Bread?

There are a lot of benefits to including whole grains in your diet, and pita bread is no exception. But is pita bread any healthier than other bread? Well, it depends. Because pita bread is a small, thin flatbread, one pita weighs approximately as much as one slice of bread. So, to compare apples to apples, so to speak, we’ll compare their nutritional value to a slice of wheat bread.

While similar in calorie content, one slice of wheat bread (29g) is higher in sugar and lower in dietary fiber than one small pita bread. It is also slightly higher in sodium and fat. 

Since most people eat two slices of bread in one sitting and only one pita bread, pita bread does come out ahead. But remember, it is important to look for whole-grain pita bread when shopping rather than pita bread made with refined white flour. You want to ensure you get the benefits from bread with a high fiber content which will help minimize blood sugar spikes.

How do you know if your pita bread is made from whole grains? Check the ingredient list and look for “whole wheat” or “stone ground wheat” as the first ingredient. Many whole grain or multigrain products also have a whole grain stamp on the package saying it is 100% whole grain or contains a percentage of whole grains.23 

Are There Any Downsides to Eating Pita Bread?

Pita bread is a healthy and delicious choice for most people. Choosing a pita made from whole grains is the best option to get the most nutrition.

While a healthy option for most people, pita bread is made with wheat flour, so it is not gluten-free. Anyone with a wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease should avoid eating pita bread. 

How to Eat Pita Bread: 5 Meal Ideas

While pita bread is traditionally eaten as part of many Mediterranean dishes, it can be enjoyed with almost anything. It can be served on the side with soup or salad, stuffed with vegetables and meat for a sandwich, or enjoyed as a snack. Here are five simple pita bread recipes to add to your meal rotation.


1. Hummus and vegetable snack plate with pita

This easy snack plate is a perfect mid-afternoon treat that will fill you up and keep you satisfied until dinner. 

Cut a pita round into quarters and place it on a plate. Add cut-up veggies like carrots, peppers, and cucumbers to the plate. Serve with a bowl of hummus. 

2. Caesar Chicken Salad in Pita

A classic Caesar salad is topped with roasted chicken and placed in a pita round. In this version, you can either cut the pita bread in half and stuff each half with shredded romaine lettuce, roasted chicken breast, and parmesan cheese, or place the salad with the chicken and cheese on top of the pita, drizzle it with caesar dressing, and fold it over for a quick lunch. 

3. Portabella and avocado pita sandwich

This vegetarian sandwich uses thinly sliced, meaty portabella mushrooms for a hearty and savory sandwich. Slices of velvety avocado combined with microgreens or sprouts give the sandwich a nutritional boost and add filling fat. Drizzle the vegetables with a light vinaigrette and olive oil for added flavor. 

4. Prosciutto and Arugula Pita Pizza

Using pita bread instead of pizza dough is a great way to get your pizza fix and helps you stick with your low-carb diet on pizza night. This delicious pita pizza is topped with peppery arugula, thinly sliced prosciutto, and shredded mozzarella for a treat. Then, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and maybe some figs on the side, and your Friday pizza night just got a lot better!

5. Pita and Shakshuka

Pita bread is an ideal bread for dipping. While you may not think of it as a breakfast food, it is delicious alongside a hearty shakshuka. This traditional middle eastern dish contains tomatoes, vegetables, and poached eggs. The pita sops up all that yummy tomato and egg goodness!

To make the shakshuka, saute sliced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic in a cast iron skillet until softened. Add a can or two of petite diced tomatoes and cook until bubbling. Make two to four indentations or “wells” with the back of a spoon in the tomato and vegetable mixture. Gently break open some eggs and add one to each well. Cover and let the eggs poach until the center is slightly firm. Serve with quartered pita bread or homemade pita chips. 

Learn More About Healthy Nutrition with Signos’ Expert Advice.

Curious about how eating pita bread or other whole grains may affect your blood sugar? A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be able to help. Learn more about how CGMs work and if Signos may be able to help improve your health on our blog. You can also learn about healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle tips.  

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Topics discussed in this article:


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About the author

Laura is an award-winning food and nutrition communications consultant, freelance writer, and recipe developer.

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