Kosher for Passover’s Health Benefits

April 02, 2015

Think Kosher for Passover foods are all about high calorie, indulgent ingredients? Think again as kosher for Passover means avoiding certain ubiquitous controversial ingredients!

Shoppers who want help at the shelf avoiding corn sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup and certain food dyes might wish for some versions of kosher for Passover sections year-round. Not that this would literally happen - but if it was possible and suppliers and retailers could provide a year-round kosher for Passover mini-section, it could appeal to others beyond Jews, as we're all looking to eliminate added sugars and everything artificial from our pantries – but why again does kosher for Passover exclude corn sweeteners?

With regard to sugars and corn syrup, the difference between regular kosher and kosher for Passover is this, according to the Orthodox Union (OU), a certifying body for more than 400,000 kosher products: “Most U.S. manufacturers of sugars use corn as a starting material. The corn is milled, washed, and the starch (as a liquid slurry) is recovered and treated with various enzymes to convert the slurry to the desired sugar….[the enzyme] glucose isomerase, used to make high fructose corn syrup, is sometimes chametz-based [any flour of the five species of grain – wheat, spelt, oats, barley or rye – mixed with water and allowed to ferment before being baked, and cannot be consumed on Passover, says Chabad] and sometimes kitniyot [loosely translated as legumes, says OU]. Corn syrups are widely used in a multitude of products including ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, soft drinks, coffee whiteners, sweeteners, citric acid, vitamins, etc. Clearly, one cannot assume that corn syrups are without chametz concerns.”

Stories abound of consumers hoarding the kosher for Passover Coca-Cola available this time of year because it is made of sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup; they want to be able to drink it beyond the holiday, often because they prefer the taste.

Numerous supermarkets create kosher for Passover sections and some even offer an eating healthy spin to the menu, suggesting ways to lighten up Passover meals. The Seder and eight-day holiday typically include heavy, calorie-laden dishes, SupermarketGuru has a few suggestions to lighten up the meal:

Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables- spring is a plentiful time for fresh and nutritious veggies which bring meals a lot of flavor with little effort.

Limit the use of egg yolks in prepared menu items and swap with replacements like flaxseeds.

Season poultry (skinless) with fresh herbs and spices instead of oils (some of which are not kosher for Passover) and salt.

Use whole grains including whole-wheat matzo.

SupermarketGuru wishes you a healthy Passover; although the holiday calls for certain dietary restrictions, you are encouraged to continue to vigilantly read labels and stick to a varied and balanced diet!