Alternatively Speaking: For a healthier new year

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: What fish are best to eat on Rosh Hashana?

Rosh Hashana table 521 (photo credit: Sivan Farag)
Rosh Hashana table 521
(photo credit: Sivan Farag)
Q. Every Rosh Hashana, I place the head of a fish on our table during mealtimes. What are the main health benefits of fish, and are some better than others?
A. Fish contains several essential vitamins and minerals and is indeed a wonderful source of protein and saturated fat. The omega-3 fatty acids are the main healthy nutrient in fish and are a form of unsaturated fat which are used for brain function. They also lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
The best sources of omega 3 are usually found in saltwater fish such as salmon, tuna and anchovies. The other important nutrient in fish is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the 13 essential vitamins we need to absorb calcium and to maintain healthy teeth and bones. All the varieties of salmon are among the healthiest fish to eat. A 85 gram serving provides 1.1 g to 1.9 g of omega-3 fatty acids and contains only 0.01 parts per million of mercury. Salmon also provides up to 24 percent of our daily recommended value of calcium. It is also an excellent source of niacin, also known as Vitamin B-3, and Vitamin B-12, which supports healthy red blood cells.
Another one of the healthiest fish to eat is flat fish (Flounder). An 85 gram serving provides 0.48 g of omega-3 fatty acid with only 0.05 parts per million of mercury. It is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus and also contains essential vitamins including niacin, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin A.
Click for more JPost High Holy Day features
Click for more JPost High Holy Day features

Q. Dear Natalie, I get so stressed right before the High Holiday season because of all there is to do; shopping, cooking, entertaining etc. Can you recommend any herbal remedies to help reduce my stress levels?

A. Stress is a normal and usually anticipated part of preparing for the High Holy Days. It can have its benefits in motivating and keeping us focused, however when it becomes too much and begins to affect our health it is time to bring out the healing herbs.
Lavender not only produces a beautiful fragrance, it is also used as a medicinal herb. I prescribe lavender essential oil for stress, anxiety and insomnia in the days leading up to the holidays. You can either burn the oil to enjoy its relaxing benefits or it can be used in a tea. Make the tea using dried flowers and not the oil. Do not use lavender if you are pregnant or nursing.
Lemon balm is another herb famously known to have calming properties. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family of plants and works by enhancing a feeling of calm and reducing the symptoms of anxiety. To make lemon balm tea steep 1 teaspoon of dried herb in hot water. You can drink the tea several times daily. It is also an excellent aid for indigestion – another good reason to have some available during the festival.
Lastly I recommend sipping a cup of valerian tea to help relax and alleviate stress. University of Maryland Medical Center researchers proved that valerian increases the amount of gamma amino butyric acid in the brain which regulates the nerves and has a calming effect. Boil one cup of water and pour it over 1 teaspoon of dried valerian root. Do not drive or engage in potentially dangerous activities after drinking valerian tea.
Q. Dear Natalie, in keeping with the custom of eating a new fruit on Rosh Hashana, I have decided to try the Dragon Fruit. Can you tell me about its health benefits?
A. Dragon fruit (pitaya fruit), is a wonderful, brightly colored fruit that can be eaten fresh or dried. Dragon fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant which protects our cell membranes and other tissues from free radical damage. Its high Vitamin C content also aids the healing of cuts and bruises whilst boosting the immune system. Dragon fruit also contains Vitamins B-1, B-2 and B-3.
Vitamin B-1 is essential for energy production and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, while Vitamin B-2 helps improves appetite. Vitamin B-3 content reduces cholesterol and is great for moisturizing the skin.
Dragon fruit is high in fiber content and can be used as a natural laxative to treat constipation. When eaten after a heavy meal, the fiber in dragon fruit helps control blood sugar levels by slowing the sugar's absorption. Due to its high source of calcium and phosphorus this fruit is also good for strengthening bones and teeth and forming new tissues.  Dragon fruit also helps neutralize and excrete heavy-metal toxins. Overall dragon fruit is a great choice of new fruit for a healthy new year.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie  with your question at

Someone Once Said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  - Hippocrates