Passover charoset: why is it good for our health

Charoset, a Passover staple rich in zinc and vitamin C, boosts immunity; its ingredients vary by region in Israel, including apples, nuts and spices; consumption in moderation is advised, and those with nut allergies should avoid it

Dr. Tori Goldstein|
Who doesn't love charoset? It's probably the most universally beloved dish on the Passover table. Sweet, tasty, and a welcome relief from life's bitterness (especially these days). Turns out, this dish also packs a healthy punch, as long as you don't go overboard.
But here's a surprise: charoset isn't always sweet. There's a variety of flavors across Israel. Some make it spicy, while others craft it into a smooth, clay-like texture. We've delved into the ingredients and health impacts of charoset from different traditions.
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חרוסת עם צימוקים
חרוסת עם צימוקים
(Photo: Yaron Brener)

Polish-style charoset

  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Wine, as needed for desired consistency
When whipping up a recipe for ten, you're looking at around 1,850 calories, over 110 grams of carbs (that's about seven servings of carbs), and around 120 grams of fat. A tenth of the recipe (about 2 tablespoons) contains 185 calories and roughly 3/4 of a carb serving during the Seder.
Healthy or not? Polish-style charoset is a treasure trove of iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber. It may even help regulate blood sugar levels. Plus, the high almond content is great for heart health. For those with heart issues or high blood sugar, swapping sweet wine for dry wine is a smart move.

Spanish-style charoset

  • 500 grams dates
  • 150 ml sweet red wine
  • 200 grams walnuts
  • 100 grams almonds
  • 100 grams pistachios
  • 150 grams grated green apple
Healthy or not? Well, it's quite a powerhouse in terms of nutrients. Rich in iron (17 mg), double that of Polish-style charoset. It's also packed with zinc (11 mg), calcium (700 mg), and linoleic acid (88 grams), making it highly recommended for vegans and vegetarians. However, it's worth noting that it's also high in phosphorus (1,600 mg) and magnesium (5,900 mg), so those with kidney issues should consume it in moderation. And of course, watch out for the calorie count. This charoset recipe is a nutrient-packed delight, but balance is key!
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לכתבה בלבד! חרוסת ספרדית
לכתבה בלבד! חרוסת ספרדית
Spanish-style charoset

Fruit charoset

  • 300 grams grated apple
  • 200 grams grated pear
  • 150 grams walnuts
  • 150 grams almonds
  • 150 grams pistachios
  • 200 grams dates
  • 200 grams dried figs
  • 400 ml sweet red wine
This recipe intended for 10 diners, amounts to 4,700 calories.
Healthy or not? With its high fruit content, the sugar level in this recipe is quite significant. Each serving contains 470 calories and 45 grams of carbohydrates, which equals 2.5 carbohydrate servings. For diabetics and those struggling with excess weight, it's advisable to moderate the consumption. However, for underweight children, enriching the holiday menu with this charoset throughout the festival is a good idea. So, while it's delicious, it's important to be mindful of portions!
The author is a clinical dietitian
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