Consumers have already begun shopping for a multitude of varieties of fruits and
nuts to hold a Tu Bishvat Seder marking the new year of trees Wednesday night and Thursday next week. But while the products are very nutritious, though
fattening, the tasty treats pose dangers when small children get their hands on
The minor holiday – on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat –
is one of four traditional “new years” and became the date for calculating when
the agricultural cycle began and ended for the purpose of biblical
It has become traditional to eat species of the Land of Israel on
Tu Bishvat. The holiday has turned into an ecological tree-planting,
fruit-eating, and land development holiday in Israel. It begins the season when
the earliest-blooming trees here emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new
Although the holiday is next week, many families
have already purchased dried fruit, nuts, and other food that may pose risks to
young children. The swallowing mechanism in youngsters under the age of five is
undeveloped, so they often have difficulty coordinating their swallowing with
their breathing, especially when they eat while speaking or playing.
objects especially can choke them, the Health Ministry warns. Additionally, nuts
and other foods may absorb liquids and swell and become sticky; they can easily
get caught in the air tube and prevent breathing. Thus the ministry urges
parents not to give children under five nuts and other small pieces of food
traditionally eaten on Tu Bishvat.
Choking on foreign objects such as Tu
Bishvat fruits and nuts is responsible for more than half of deaths in children
before their first birthday.
Since 2007, a law has been in effect that
requires packages of such foods to be marked with warnings against their
consumption by children under five.
Prof. Yehezkel Weissman, head of the
urgent medicine unit at Petah Tikva’s Schneider Children’s Medical Center,
listed nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, and hard fruits as
dangerous when fed to young children. These foods should also not be left
accessible to children, he said. If they are given any at all, they should be
cut lengthwise to become narrow so they do not get stuck in the trachea. Always
remove seeds from fruits before giving them in bitesized pieces to
While Tu Bishvat goodies are full of minerals like iron,
potassium, and magnesium, fiber and vitamins, one shouldn’t exaggerate in their
consumption, because they are fattening. Prefer those to which sugar has not
been added, but even those with natural sugar have many calories.
fruits take up less space than fresh fruits, so they have more calories than an
equal weight of fresh fruit.
Twelve dates are equal to 275 calories,
while five figs contain 260 calories and dried prunes 115.