By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
If there is one time of the year to reduce our white flour intake, it’s during the 8 days of Passover. At least for the Ashkenazim, during these 8 days there is the restriction from eating most whole grains and legumes, which are undoubtedly the most nutritious food category after fruits and vegetables. Consequently we find ourselves consuming copious amounts of matza and never really feeling full or completely satisfied. Many people are used to eating regular matza, which is made from white flour, water and salt. White flour is highly processed and stripped of most of the naturally occurring fiber and nutrients in the wheat grain. So white flour not only provides minimal nutrients and fiber, but also promotes blood sugar fluctuation, cravings and more serious problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Whilst it is unrealistic to completely cut out regular matza, as some wonderful Passover recipes call for it, I recommend eating whole wheat matza (Osem makes a nice one) as much as possible as an alternative to regular matzas for meals and snacks. Whole wheat flour is still technically a processed form of the wheat grain; however, because the flour is made from all the essential edible parts of the wheat grain, you are getting more nutrients and fiber per sheet. Whole wheat matza contains about three to four grams of fiber per sheet, whereas plain matza contains only one gram. Whole wheat flour is also digested slower that white flour, so that blood sugar levels after the meal should rise more evenly, keeping you fuller for longer and free of erratic sugar cravings or sudden drops in your energy level.