Matza or matzo (also spelt matzoh or matzah) is a type of flatbread prominent in the Jewish culture. Jews consume this dish during the Passover holidays commemorating their Exodus from Egypt. This food is a symbol of salvation. Similarly, unleavened bread is also a communion wafer in some Christian traditions. Here matzo symbolises Jesus Christ during the last supper, a Passover meal.
Matzo is known for its ready-to-be-devoured taste, but most of us are unaware of the health benefits. Matza is a bread that is suitable for most restrictive diets. In addition, it is an enormous energy source and can cure several disorders.
Matza has several names globally. People refer to it as matza, matzo, matzah, or even as mere flatbread. No matter what you call it, the worth of this bread does not change. Matza tastes bland on its own. However, the taste enhances with cooking; it only takes about 18 minutes. You can consume it during any meal of the day.
The HealthifyMe Note
Matza is a popular food that has roots in Egypt during the Exodus of the Jews. When leaving the country, the people did not have time to let their bread dough rise. Therefore, when they baked it, they ended up with matza. Thus, it is a ritual to relive this incident. Moreover, it holds significance religiously, as people use it as a staple during Passover. Passover is a remembrance of Jesus Christ during the last supper.
Varieties of Matza
There are different flavours and varieties of matza. Significant brands like Streit’s and Yehuda are home to these wide varieties.
As absurd as it sounds, the chocolate matza is equally beneficial as the plain matza. Brands introduced this flavour so that children could get a taste of chocolate and gain nutritional benefits. It is a fan favourite amongst children, and parents love it as their kids get to consume something nutritious while enjoying it.
Matza in itself is highly beneficial. However, organic matzo acts as the cherry on the cake. It contains the right amount of fibre too. This variety came up with the emphasis on eating organic for a healthier lifestyle.
Whole grain or Gluten-Free
These varieties are introduced explicitly to those who do not include gluten in their diet. These varieties grant instant benefits to your growing muscles as they contain more protein. In addition, the results are quicker than plain matza.
These varieties are on-demand currently. Thus, most of the popular matzo-producing brands have started providing this variety. You can choose the best one out of them all according to your nutritional needs and taste preferences.
According to the USDA, 100 grams of matza contains the following nutritional value.
- Proteins: 13.1g
- Carbohydrates: 78.9g
- Energy: 351 kcal
- Fibre: 0g
- Fat: 0g
- Magnesium: 134 mg
- Phosphorous: 305 mg
- Potassium: 316 mg
As mentioned above, matza contains 13.1 grams of proteins. Therefore, a person would get about 5 to 6% of their daily protein intake from consuming matza. Variants like egg matza have more protein than the other variants.
Matza contains no fat and is low in calories. Thus, it is the perfect aid for weight loss.
It is undeniable that carbohydrates are the only source of instant energy for our bodies. Unfortunately, most flatbread varieties contain too many calories or have meagre amounts of carbohydrates.
That is where matza stands apart from other kinds of bread. Matza is a balanced dietary food item that anyone on a restrictive diet can consume. A single sheet of matza has plenty of carbohydrates. It contributes nearly 10% of your daily required carbohydrate intake when finished.
Though the original raw matza contains no fibre, some prominent brands enhance matza’s benefits by adding wheat bran. You can choose your type according to your taste preference.
Even though matza is not a food supplement or a superfood, it contains a trace amount of iron. The total iron content in matza is around 0.4 milligrams (per matzo sheet). Thus, consuming matza regularly can add to the daily intake.
Advantages of Matza
Matza is carb-rich and a convenient food option. There are several variants available. Matza is not a superfood, yet it provides some benefits. A few of them are listed below.
Matza production mainly involves no dairy product. Therefore, it ensures people who are lactose intolerant can consume it safely. Matza can also be an excellent food choice for children. However, be cautious while choosing your matza in the market. Always consult your paediatrician before giving it to your children.
Suitable for Low-Calorie Diets
Looking at the nutritional chart, you can see that matza is relatively low on calories compared to other wheat-based flatbreads. Additionally, if consumed regularly and moderately, matza can be the best mid-day snack for your hunger pangs between meals.
Aids Weight Loss
It is well-known that saturated and trans fats can be highly detrimental to your body. For example, they can cause chronic heart diseases by increasing unwanted LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.
Most of the packaged foods produced in the current times contain a high amount of fats. Matza, on the other hand, has zero grams of fat. Therefore, in moderation, matza can significantly benefit your weight loss program.
Although the original matza is not very healthy, most brands have introduced newer variations to enhance the advantages. In addition, several brands introduced the whole grain variety of matza. The criteria to qualify as a whole-grain supplement is that every 30 grams of the product should contain 8 grams of whole grain.
According to some studies, you should consume approximately 45 grams of matza daily to get the maximum benefits.
Most of the top matza brands add no preservatives to the original matza. They do this to reduce the chances of causing allergic reactions amongst their customers. The original matzo crackers or snacks only contain refined wheat flour and matza.
Recipes Using Matza
There are numerous ways to consume the healthiest matza. A few of them are listed below.
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Chocolate Toffee Matzo
- Matzo Icebox Cake
- Matza Lasagna
- Matzoh Sandwich
These recipes can be a great choice if you dislike the taste of matza on its own. You can try out these recipes at home as they are healthy and tasty at the same time. Most of these recipes also contain enough fibre to ensure the regularity of bowel movements.
Matzo Ball Soup
- Servings: 4 to 5
- Preparation Time: 10- 15 minutes
- Cooking Time: 1hr 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1hr 45 minutes
- 1 cup: Around 200ml
- Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
- Garlic: 1
- Yellow Onion: 1
- Carrots: 3
- Celery: 3 stalks
- Chicken Breast: 1
- Chicken Broth: 5-6 cups
- Pepper, Salt, Baking Powder: A pinch
- Eggs: 3
- Matzo meal: ¾ Cup
- After dicing the onions, carrots, and other vegetables, saute all the vegetables in a huge pan on medium heat until the onions turn transparent. It will take around 5 minutes to do so.
- After this, move on to the chicken part. Add the chicken breast and broth to the pan with equal amounts of water. Close the lid and let it boil. Once it boils, let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, you can prepare the matzo balls.
- First, mould the matzo dough into a ball.
- Take a medium bowl, and mix the eggs, vegetable oil, a few pinches of salt, baking powder, and pepper with the matzo meal.
- Add a lot of water and refrigerate the mixture for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Once you have cooked the soup, you can remove the chicken breast, shred it, and return it to the soup.
- First, check if the broth and the chicken breast are well flavoured.
- Once the matzo balls are well frozen, add them to the soup. Once all the balls are in the soup, cook the soup for 20 more minutes at medium heat. Stir the soup at regular intervals to avoid clumps.
- Your soup is ready. Serve it hot with some dill leaves as garnishing.
Time: 20 minutes
- Unsalted matzo crackers: 1 package (10 ounces)
- Large eggs, beaten: 8
- Whole milk or half-and-half: 1/2 cup
- Kosher salt: 1 tsp
- Unsalted butter divided: 6 tbsp
- Maple syrup, optional
- Crumble matzo crackers coarsely into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large mixing bowl.
- Place the sieve under cold running water for 15 seconds to soften matzo and drain.
- Combine the softened matzo, eggs, milk, crumbs, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt three tablespoons of butter.
- Add half of the matzo mixture.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is golden brown and you have cooked the eggs.
- Top with the rest of the butter and matzo mixture. If you would like, drizzle with maple syrup and serve.
Every food item reacts differently for different individuals, so checking for possible allergies is a given. A few of the common allergies for matza are listed below.
Constant and excessive consumption of matza can create issues for your digestive system. As matza is food for restrictive diets, people consuming it generally don’t feel satiated with their meals. As a reflex, they start consuming more matza, leading to health complications. However, you don’t need to stop the intake of matza.
It would be best to regulate it by consuming other fibre-rich foods like berries, strawberries, bananas, broccoli, etc. These would reduce its effect on your intestine and promote regular bowel movements. Patients suffering from gastrointestinal problems are advised not to consume matza regularly.
Just like indigestion, constipation is also a severe effect of overconsumption of matza. Matza usually is used as a remedy to treat diarrhoea. Thus, people typically begin their intake to control diarrhoea but end up with constipation by overeating it.
The main reason for this is the absence of fibre. Fibre usually acts as a laxative in treating constipation. The lack of it leads to the hardening of stools. The only solution to this issue is to drink enough water and eat fibre-rich foods. Balanced matza and fibre consumption will keep your intestine happy and healthy.
The HealthifyMe Note
Some of the known side effects of Matza are indigestion and constipation. Keep drinking enough fluids like water and fruit juices to ensure the smooth functioning of your digestive system. These side effects are not chronic or permanent. Nevertheless, be cautious to check the ingredients before consuming matza.
Matza is an excellent alternative to other wheat flour-based foods as it contains no fat and has fewer calories. Also, this is an add-on benefit to people trying to lose weight or gain muscle.
Since it doesn’t contain dairy products, it is also suitable for people allergic to dairy. Though it has two significant side effects: indigestion and constipation, you can cure these by altering your regular diet slightly. Nothing is detrimental if consumed in moderation.
According to studies, matzo is the best meal to consume during Passover.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is Matzo healthier than bread?
A. Yes, matzo is healthier than bread as it contains no fat, which reduces the risk of heart-related diseases. Hence, matzo is the best alternative to bread, bun, or any other wheat flour-related packaged products.
Q. Is matzo good for weight loss?
A. Yes, matzo is the ideal food for weight loss. As matzo contains zero fat, it can serve as an excellent food for your low-calorie diet. Working out and matzo is the ideal combination for weight loss. Consult your dietician regarding the dosage of the same.
Q. What is the importance of Matzo bread?
A. Matzo bread contains a good amount of carbohydrates and proteins. It can increase the strength of your body and reduce the risk of diseases. Consuming matzo regularly can improve your overall health.
Q. Is matzo high in carbs?
A. Matzo is almost entirely made up of carbohydrates, which are relatively less than any other type of bread. Thus, you don’t need to worry about your carbohydrate intake. It is ideal for your overall metabolism.
Q. Is Matzo hard to digest?
A. Yes, matza is hard to digest, and consuming lots of it can cause indigestion and constipation. As you consume this fibre-free delicacy, it passes through your stomach and intestines, resulting in a hard and dry stool. It might cause constipation, especially if you consume a lot of matzas daily. The only solution is to consume fibre-based foods along with it.
Q. Does Matzah make you gassy?
A. Yes, overconsumption of matza will make you feel gassy. Thus, health professionals advise patients with gastrointestinal disorders against it as it can complicate the condition. GI problems such as bloating, gas, and stomach cramps are a side effect of overeating matza. Furthermore, matza might cause additional unpleasant symptoms, such as acid reflux, due to its high carbohydrate content, especially in people prone to flare-ups.
Q. Does matza make you bloated?
A. Yes, the carbohydrate content of matza may induce the feeling of bloating and other problems. Over intake can also lead to acidity. You can prevent this by staying hydrated throughout the day.
Q. Is matzo a healthy snack?
A. Yes, matzo is the healthiest snack of all packaged foods. It contains no preservatives and is not at all flavoured with enhancers. The absence of dairy additions also makes it safe for lactose-intolerant people. You can opt for matzo over any other snack as it is an excellent source of instant energy, just like glucose.
Q. Is matzo made of wheat?
A. Matzo is made up of grains, refined wheat flour and water, to be specific. Matza is a firm, cracker-like bread produced from flour and water dough that hasn’t been allowed to rise. Wheat, rye, oats, barley, and spelt are the five grains used to make matza.