Mad cow disease. E. Coli in products you would never expect, including peanut butter and spinach. Salmonella in your pork and chicken. Food scares are a dime a dozen these days. Short of switching to astronaut-style vitamin pills, what can we do? Studies suggest that keeping kosher might just do the trick.
Keeping kosher, or going on a diet in accordance with the Jewish dietary laws, kashrut, is a religious choice for some while for others, it is a lifestyle choice. Whatever the reason may be, the health benefits of kosher food are myriad and undeniable.
Kosher food is prepared according to strict standards, even stricter than those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Animals with diseases may not be consumed. Slaughterhouses even conduct postmortems on the organs of the animals to be sure that they are disease-free. Similarly, animals with broken bones or that look unhealthy are not kosher. In addition, animals raised in the kosher way are hormone-free. This extra level of safety puts another barrier between consumers and diseases.
One of the more well-known kosher rules is don't cook a calf in its mother's milk, meaning that meat products cannot be eaten with dairy products in the same meal. Studies have shown that mixing the two foods can interfere with digestion, causing your system to take longer to process the foods when eaten together. Besides diverting energy away from other important functions such as cell regeneration, this can also lead to higher cholesterol levels and other health problems. Bodily functions aside, this rule also means that high cholesterol, high fat fast foods like cheeseburgers, meat pizzas and even lasagna is off the menu, making it easier for you to eat healthily.
Eating kosher food also means you are less exposed to food-related bacteria or diseases. For example, pork, which is linked to the parasitic disease, trichinosis, is not allowed in a kosher diet. Similarly, blood, a known carrier of bacteria, is drained in the ritual slaughtering that must be carried out in order for the food to be deemed kosher.
Kosher slaughtering rituals also leads to healthier meat. According to kosher law, the slaughtering of an animal must be immediate and painless. This means that the animal will feel no fear, and therefore will not release a hormone linked to fear. Studies have shown that animals slaughtered in the conventional way have elevated levels of this hormone, which leads to a range of health problems in humans, including cardiac disease, impotence, and fatigue. As the ritual slaughter rules also dictate that the animal must be killed in such a way that it does not know that it will be killed, Kosher food is also healthier for your conscience.
Kosher food may also be a healthier option for you if your family has a lot of dietary restrictions or allergies to contend with. Lactose intolerants can be sure that kosher food, being meticulously labeled, does not contain hidden dairy products while vegetarians can avoid any products that contain meat.
Keeping kosher is no longer just for the Jewish. With sales increasing but the Jewish population staying relatively unchanged, it is clear that more and more people are turning to kosher foods as a healthier alternative to conventional food. While nothing in life is certain, having Kosher's strict guidelines standing guard leaves me feeling safer and healthier in my choice of Kosher food.