START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Passover Health Benefits

Passover Health Benefits

As the holiday of Passover begins, Jews around the world begin a week-long festival. Although the holiday is usually regarded for its religious significance, I have written here about its many health benefits.

The Seder is the epicenter of the holiday. Families join together from far and near. The word Seder means “order” in Hebrew, and at this special meal the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is told. The youngest child asks four standard questions about the holiday. There is singing and relaxation, and in most households, the focus will be on the meal.

One of the main health benefits of Passover is the socializing. In his book Blue Zones, Daniel Beuttner describes one of the most important commonalities of longevity – socialization. Clearly, that is much of what Passover is about. Families get together; friends and guests from out of town with no Seder nearby are often invited. Many Passover celebrations include going to synagogue, coming home for meals (for some who want to eat specially prepared meals) and getting together with friends. Passover is a very social as well as religious experience.

Another ritual that generally happens around Passover is cleaning the home –the uncluttering or “spring cleaning.” Food is removed that is “past date” or does not “pass Passover inspection” for chametz (unleavened food made of wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt that has fermented or allowed to “rise”). This spring-cleaning is not only very therapeutic and de-stressing, it also rids many foods that contain gluten and potential allergens.
And what about the food eaten? Here is my slight disclaimer. I know that not every Passover recipe is made with low fat, low salt, low calories and certainly, not low volume. But there is an upside to what is eaten.

First the red wine. The holiday requires drinking four glasses. Antioxidants called polyphenols are thought to protect the inside wall of blood vessels lining your heart, reduce “bad” cholesterol and lower the risk of blood clots. Another antioxidant, resveratrol, is thought to reduce inflammation and blood clotting, as well as lower the risk for diabetes. So for at least one night, it’s good to have those four glasses of red wine that come with the Seder.

The Seder meal also teaches us to eat slowly. We are instructed that we can optionally eat reclining; this allows us to chew our food better, which aids digestion and gives the entire experience a feeling of relaxation that counters stress.

The Seder plate is also full of healthy choices.

  • Karpas, the vegetable (typically parsley but also sometimes an onion) that is dipped into salt water and eaten represents the tears shed by our suffering ancestors in slavery. Parsley is filled with vitamin K, which aids blood clotting; vitamin A, which helps vision and builds the immune system; and vitamin C, which helps wounds heal. Folic acid is also in parsley and that helps manufacture red blood cells.
  • Charoset, which signifies the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build brick buildings in Egypt, is made from a combination of nuts, apples, cinnamon, wine and a bit of honey. There are many health benefits from the ingredients of charoset, but all have the common benefit of lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “lousy”) cholesterol.
  • Maror, the bitter herb that reminds us of the bitterness of slavery, consists of grated horseradish known as the “Jewish Dristan” for its sinus clearing capabilities. As an herbal medicine it has been used for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, reducing retained fluid, an achy joint remedy and a treatment for gout.
  • Zeroa, the shank bone of a lamb, reminds us of the lamb sacrificed on the eve of the exodus from Egypt. It typically isn’t eaten. Maybe the health benefit of this is to remind us to limit our meat consumption and eat lots of vegetables and fruits every day.
  • A hard-boiled egg symbolizes new life and represents the holiday offering brought in the days of the Holy Temple in Israel before it was destroyed. Eggs are a great source of protein and numerous vitamins including vitamin A, folic acid and choline. They also contain two amino acids with antioxidant properties – tryptophan and tyrosine.
  • Let’s not forget the Gefilte Fish. This ground fish ball boiled with carrots and onions is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, beta-carotene and other B vitamins.

OK, eventually we are going to get to the brisket and the many delicious side dishes that constitute the remainder of the meal. Here, the amount consumed as well as content will determine the health of the meal.

One final health benefit of Passover I want to acknowledge is reflecting on what the holiday is all about – freedom. After 400 years of bondage, 600,000 Hebrews followed an unknown path to freedom. They received 10 Commandments to live by and entered a new world of both uncertainty and untold opportunities.

I hope that for each of you, this Passover will be a happy and social time, one of relaxation and healthy meals, and one in which you reflect upon the true meaning of the holiday – freedom. All of us have a choice of whether or not to be slaves to bad habits and unhealthy choices, ongoing stress (click here for free stress reduction eBook), unhealthy relationships and situations that keep us shackled, and negative baggage that binds our minds. I hope that this Passover will serve as an exodus for you to freedom from this form of bondage – the ultimate health benefit of Passover.

Read more: Life, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Holidays, Other Holidays, Stay Well With Dr. Seibel, Women's Health, , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.


+ add your own
3:06AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013


6:27AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013


10:58PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013


9:14PM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

Good reminder, thanks.

7:31PM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

Good information, great reminders. Thank you!

7:20AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013


6:12AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013


5:41AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013


5:41AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

Well written, informative article. It would have been even better if you had included an heirloom recipe or two, perhaps for Charoset or the hinted at brisket.

4:05AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

:) Thank You!!

Live~Love~Laugh Dont get caught up in the Rat Race!!!

I think I'll collect elderberries, instead of mowing my yard. Much more satisfying.

thanks for sharing...hate 9 to 5...agree with Nanette, would love to work 32 hours but get paid for …

For those wondering if it works or not...just look at the diet of those in societies that are the he…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!