More and more people are turning to kosher foods despite the higher price point, and not for religious reasons, but because they think these foods are safer, healthier, and of better quality. Kosher foods are produced in accordance with strict religious dietary laws at specialized facilities under the supervision of a rabbi, but does this make them better for you or the animals in any way? If you’re interested in learning more about the kosher diet, check out our previous blog here. Now onto the bigger question – is kosher actually healthier?
How Exactly Is It Better For Me?
Kosher poultry and meat are safer because the salting process that is used to remove blood from the meat kills disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella. Additionally, salt has some antibacterial effects. Kosher salt, which is used in this process, has a larger grain size compared with regular table salt – so the salt adheres to the surface of the meat longer. Despite this fact, salting is not a process that will make your raw meat safer than non-kosher. You still have to handle the meat as carefully as any other meat. Salting also increases the sodium content.
Kosher foods undergo more inspections, so the quality of food needs to be up to par. Kosher inspectors, who must be allowed to visit plants unannounced, make sure that kosher laws such as no mixing of meat and dairy foods are followed and that foods are accurately labeled. They may also check the animals for signs of disease. The inspectors do not perform tests designed specifically for food safety.
Kosher beef carries less risk from mad cow disease. Kosher slaughter methods ensure that no brain tissue spreads to other parts of the animal, decreasing the risk of contracting the human form of this disease. But there have been no known cases of this brain disorder in the United States due to infected American beef, and USDA regulations help ensure that beef is safe from mad cow disease.
The Healthiness of Kosher
Because most foods are allowed on the kosher diet, there’s options to eat a healthy or unhealthy diet. That being said, the kosher diet allows nearly all fruits, vegetables, and grains, so it is a simple task to maintain a healthy diet. However, there are some kosher foods that may be harmful for certain groups.
A great deal of kosher foods have additional sodium added to them. Because salt is added to kosher meats, it can pose a risk to those who are sensitive to sodium. For this reason, people with high blood pressure or other conditions made worse by too much sodium may have to be careful about their intake of kosher meat.
Because there is also a strict separation of meat and milk, many kosher foods use margarine, a product made from vegetable oils as a dairy substitute. Margarine can have trans fats which have been linked to heart disease and other health ailments. While butter naturally has saturated fats, margarine needs to go through a process called hydrogenation to saturate the fats, which in turn creates more dangerous trans fats.
The Final Verdict
At the end of the day, the kosher diet can be either healthy or unhealthy depending on your individual food choices. If you choose to follow this diet, make sure to look out for trans fats or excessive sodium in foods. The kosher label is no guarantee of safety. You must handle kosher foods at home as you would other foods. That means cooking meat and poultry to proper temperatures, separating raw foods from cooked foods to prevent cross contamination and so on. Looking for your new favorite kosher restaurant? You’re in the right place.
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