Is a Passover Meal Healthy?
This year, Passover begins tonight at sundown and ends at nightfall on Monday, April 5th. Many who honor Jewish tradition will celebrate with a traditional meal which is not only a celebration of faith, but can also be healthful for the body.
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is considered one of the most significant of Jewish holidays. It commemorates the deliverance of the Hebrew nation from their captivity in Egypt and the historical Exodus. The Passover story and meal, called Seder, gives reverence to God’s power, grace, and love.
The Passover Seder is customarily held at home on either the first or second night of Passover. Because work is to be refrained from on the first and last days of the week, many often choose the second night to celebrate. Seders are usually several hours long and include an elaborate and well-planned meal in addition to story-telling and ceremony.
Some Christians also celebrate Seder as part of their Holy Week, the time beginning with Palm Sunday and culminating on Easter Day. Jesus came Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; a verse in the New Testament chapter of Luke reads, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." Luke 22:15. Jesus sent His Disciples to find this place and to prepare for this dinner, now known as The Last Supper.
In the Bible book of Exodus, the Passover story details the food that was eaten, including specific meats (sheep or goat) and the use of non-leavened bread. Today, many Jewish homes choose lamb, a meat high in iron and zinc. The meats were to be roasted and combined with bitter herbs, such as horseradish, which is thought to stimulate the digestive organs and is high in vitamin C.
Another traditional dish is Karpas, parsley dipped in saltwater, to remind of the tears shed by the Jews during their enslavement. Parsley has folic acid, which may protect against cardiovascular disease and may neutralize some cancerous tumors. Charoset, a dessert made of nuts, apples, cinnamon, honey and wine also contains healthful ingredients with heart-healthy benefits.
Beitzah is egg, which symbolizes both new life and mourning for the destruction of the Temple. Eggs are rich in protein and choline.
After the Seder plate comes the most commonly known Passover food, Matzah ball soup. The chicken used to make the broth may help congestion brought on by the common cold. Gefilte fish is low in calories and high in protein, plus it includes B-vitamins.
Four cups of wine are used during the Seder, primarily red wine signifying blood. Red wine, in particular, has been shown to have healthful benefits when consumed in moderation. Antioxidants such as resveratrol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol and blood clotting.
Enjoy the Passover and the Holy Week knowing that both body and soul are being treated with Seder. For more healthful Passover recipes, visit WebMD.