Healthy Eating: 5 health commandments for Passover

Find out which items on the Seder plate you should and shouldn’t pass over this year.

Seder plate 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
Seder plate 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
Every household has their own version of the Passover Seder. However, the six items on the Seder plate and the matza are generally consistent across the globe. And while most of us know the health benefits of eggs and lettuce – as most of us eat these items on a weekly, not just Passover, basis – what’s the deal with the others?
To help you have a healthier Passover this year, find out which items on the Seder plate you should and should not include for the rest of the week:
1. Matzah a mitzvah for the waistline?
Matza is flat (like a cracker) and extremely light, so how many calories can possible be in one piece? Around 140 to be exact – which is equivalent to two pieces of bread, and the amount of carbs pretty much match up as well. Because matza is flat, and maybe not as filling as bread, many of us forget how much we are eating, and so the calories build up.
To make matters worse, most of us pile on too many toppings – whether it be cream cheese, Nutella or tuna fish, we treat these toppings more as a dip than a spread, adding to the amount of fat and calories we consume per meal.
If you’re going to consume Matzah on a regular basis for the duration of Passover, try whole wheat, as the extra fiber should keep you feeling full faster and longer.
2. Pile on the Karpas
Most of us will use parsley as Karpas on the Seder plate for dipping in the salt water; and while there is nothing wrong with using celery, parsley has a few surprising health benefits that may make you want to eat it the other 364 nights of the year.
The garnish contains two compounds that have very special benefits. The first, volatile oil, has been shown (in animal studies) to inhibit the formation of tumors. While the second, luteoline, is a specific flavonoid that helps to prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. What’s more, parsley is an excellent source of folic acid as well as Vitamin K. 
3. Don’t shy away from Maror
While most of us can’t stand Maror (horseradish), we suck it up for the Seder and down a piece or two. And while this bitter root is definitely something that most of us can’t stand to eat on a regular basis, there are some likeable benefits.
First and foremost, horseradish is one of the most powerful cancer-fighting foods – toppling broccoli and all the other cruciferous vegetables right over. Moreover, it’s a natural antibiotic as it fights off the bacteria that can cause bronchitis and UTIs.
4.  Learn to love Lamb (the meat not the bone)
Everyone knows the pros and cons of eating red meat, turkey, chicken and especially fish. But what about lamb? This meat has received far less attention than those listed above, and so there have been far less studies involving the health benefits of lamb. However, what we do know is that lamb is an extremely rich source of protein as well as iron and zinc.
Moreover, unlike most beef, lamb is low in fat, and the majority of its fat is healthy for you. It’s one of the top sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that possesses unique antioxidant properties. So while lamb is typically represented by a lamb bone on the Seder plate, there is no reason why you shouldn’t include this delicious (and filling) meat into your diet for the rest of the week.
5. Clean your plate of the Charoset, but don’t ask for seconds
A delicious mixture of apples, walnuts, red wine, cinnamon and honey – Charoset is one of the healthiest mixtures around. Every single item in this mixture is undeniably healthy. Apples are loaded with vitamins as well as quercetin, an extremely potent flavonoid with anti-cancer properties.
Red wine of course has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and honey contains antibacterial properties among a long list of health benefits. Cinnamon meanwhile has been shown to help lower cholesterol and of course most nuts are an excellent source of health and essential fatty acids. So what’s the problem? Simply put, Charoset is high in calories and sugar.