Are Heimish Foods Unhealthy?

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    You know, cholent, kishka, kugel, latkes, and the whole litany of kosher food products considered to be traditional Jewish cuisines.

    Feif Un

    Some are, some aren’t. It depends on what goes into it.

    Kishka (at least the ones sold in stores) are very unhealthy. Latkes are fried in a lot of oil – pretty unhealthy. There are lots of types of kugel, some of which can be very good for you, some of which can be very bad for you.

    Cholent depends on how it’s made. Use a lean meat and don’t add any oil, and it can be very healthy. Beans are a good source of protein.


    I’m not a doctor, and I’m also not a “health nut.” However, I do try to eat a healthy diet, with coaching from my doctor. The biggest problem I can see in the items you listed is fat content, especially in latkes and kugels. However, if they’re eaten in moderation and not the mainstay of the diet, they shouldn’t be an undue health risk. Cholent is basically a beef stew, which again is probably a ditto of the above regarding latkes and kugels.

    The biggest problem I personally have is that a lot of the processed kosher items, such as chicken coating mixes, soups, etc., is the presence of MSG, to which I’m violently alergic. I’ve learned to read food labels real closely to avoid it.




    What do chazal say about them?


    As much as I love all of these foods, most often they are made with ingredients and prepared in a way that is High fat, High cholesterol, High carbohydrate, High sodium and low in fiber. It is no coincidence that the levels of heart disease, diabetes, and similar issues are high in our community.

    There are ways to make some of these foods healthier, making some of them vegetarian, or using less oil/fat, or simply eating them in moderation. But heimish foods are definitely a challenge.


    Yes, if eaten in large portions


    Most comfort foods are unhealthy nothing makes you feel better than a clogged artery.


    Traditional eastern European Jewish foods


    ” It is no coincidence that the levels of heart disease, diabetes, and similar issues are high in our community.”

    Where were these stats invented? Who said it is any higher than average?

    Shticky Guy

    Dont forget greevin!


    Chazal said that fatty foods were healthy, which was true until the mid-1700s. When became no longer terribly malnourished on average, that reality changed.


    In Eastern Europe a staple was canned goose fat.


    As with most other peoples (e.g. Blacks, Hispanics of Native American origins), we have a cuisine designed for people who are starving. One should remember that calorie deficiency leads to an immediate and painful death. Our cuisine lacks many meat dishes (we could never afford much meat) and has minimal cheese (also a luxury item, even if most Ashkenazim weren’t lactose intolerant as adults). Sugar is a recent innovation in Europe, and it isn’t part of our traditional cuisine (same for corn produces). Bread and potatoes won’t kill you unless you overeat. Diabetes is largely a function of too much food and too little exercise, rather than a specific cuisine. High chloresterol could never be a problem with traditional Jewish cuisine since we couldn’t afford red meat and cheese. Given that Pizza (and hamburgers and hot dogs, not to mention sugar) have become the most popular foods of American Jews, I would attribute the health problems to American, rather than Jewish cuisine.


    Csar, first of all, there was an issue of Mishpacha magazine back in 2006 that devoted a number of pages to the challenges of Diabetes for our community particularly.

    Next, Check out the Encyclopedia Judaica entry on Sickness, which discusses higher rates of cardiopulmonary problems and diabetes among North African and Ashkenazi Jews.

    Next, The statistical prevalence of diabetes among Jews was even noted more than 100 years ago in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. See the entry on Diabetes Mellitus. It’s not a chidush.

    Next, see Dr. Stephen Bloom of Imperial College, London, UK’s almost 30 years of work on the issues of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke incidence among Jews.

    Next, check out the studies quoted in Koenig, McCullough, and Larsen’s book “The Handbook of Religion and Health”. It cites numerous studies which demonstrate statistics such as, to choose only one, an incidence of Coronary Artery Disease at 17% in Jewish males vs 7% in other populations.

    The list goes on and on. It is something that has been recognized and studied for over 100 years, in Europe, North AMerica, and Israel. Why are you challenging the assertion? What is your agenda, Csar?


    Diabetes is now a major problem among Americans in general, as akuperma pointed out. Not particular to Jews.


    Its not just food, its healthy Living, Healthy living includes such things as exercise and shucking is NOT exercise

    How many people who live 5 blocks from Shul, will walk there on Shabbos and drive there 3 times a day during the week


    What do our resident medical experts say on this


    Health? yentingyenta?


    I have many kugel recipes that are healthy. I try not to eat kishka it is very unhealthy. A big part of healthy eating is everything-in-moderation. So yes have cholent and latkes and what have you but only in moderation. Cholent can be very healthy though I use barley and a variety of beans, no oil or salt.

    On a different note, I think many people on YWN do not understand what the term troll means. If you think someone is trolling them don’t comment on the thread in this case though I think that is reaching.


    Chazal can’t really have anything to say about what we consider “Jewish foods” because they didn’t exist in their time (except for cholent, perhaps). Forget about the fact that these are not JEWISH foods, per se, but rather ASHKENAZI foods. Sefardim seem to eat much more healthily than Ashkenazim.


    Writersoul: We began eating Cholent as a response to the Karaites, which should be after the time of Chazal.



    A) I said “perhaps” for a reason, not exactly being a boki in the origins of cholent.

    B) That said, I don’t believe that that is the only hypothesis about its creation. I’ve heard of a lot of them.

    C) Even if it were in response to such sects, it could still be around in the time of Chazal, as the Karaites were basically ripoffs of the Sadduccees and the Boethusians (Tzedokim and Beitusim), who had similar laws.

    D) Either way, I still believe that there was probably no cholent in the time of the gemara and mishna, making this argument a moot point and reinforcing my previous post.

    Please excuse me for taking up your time with a useless argument. I’m in a debating mood tonight.


    When people did back-breaking labor, they had higher calorie requirements than we do now. Things like schmaltz, gribenes and kishke seem unhealthy to us but these may have been shabbos luxuries in the shtetl. A weekday meal may have been short on meat and fat.


    many times there was no weekday meal except for the sweet taste of torah.

    Wedings were done on Friday afternoon to combine the seudas kiddushin with Shabbos meal, Yeshivas had EATING days


    DovidM: It wasn’t an issue of the work done. It was an issue of not having any food. And in many cities throughout much of Jewish (and European) history, those who were not very rich were lucky to get meat once or twice a year, forget once a week.


    It’s actually super healthy and it’s a segulah to eat Hi-Mishe food.

    It cleanses the stomach from all that low fat no fat sugar free

    Sucralose, and other artificially produced rubbish.

    Enjoy hearty all natural chulent, kishka, potato kugel, liver, etc..

    chopped liver, (the fat content is chopped) as well.


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