Bible Health Guide
By Philip St. Vincent Brennan
Tasty Bible Foods
Foods Contained Vital Nutrients
Many of the foods available to us in modern times were not produced in the Holy Land in biblical times, but the foods that were grown contained all the nutrients that medical experts say are vital to good health.
Broccoli, for example, wasn't grown, but other available vegetables contained the nutrients found in this cruciferous vegetable. You don't, therefore, have to eat only the foods mentioned in the Bible to stay healthy, but you do have to eat the foods containing the same vital nutrients.
"Nutritional concepts in the Bible began with fruit, grains, nuts and seeds," according to nutrition expert Dr. Ulma Register. Listing the Bible's dos and don'ts, Dr. Register adds, "These are the same guidelines the government and medical establishments are advocating based on scientific evidence."
Some Plants the Bible Mentions
"Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples: for I am sick with love. (Song of Solomon 2:5)
Apples are rich in pectin, a fiber known to help keep the heart healthy. Apples are also rich in fiber and boron, and vitamins A, B1 and C. They also contain potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
"Eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart." (Ecclesiastes 9:7)
"Bread was the mainstay of daily diet," according to the Encyclopedia of Bible Life. Because wheat was more expensive, the ordinary Israelite made bread from barley flour. They simply mixed it with olive oil and baked it into flat loaves."
In the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the bread was specifically described as "barley loaves." Barley contains chemicals that help prevent production of LDL cholesterol—the so-called bad cholesterol. The people in the Middle East still call it "the heart medicine."
"And you take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt, and put them in a single vessel, and make bread of them." (Ezekiel 4:9)
Beans are also complex carbohydrates. They are rich in soluble fibers. Soy beans and lima beans are vitamin E-rich; along with white and red beans, they are also rich in the B-family of vitamins.
Dried beans can slash high cholesterol levels in the bloodstream by as much as a whopping 20 percent.
While there were no root vegetables such as beets, turnips, or cabbages in the Holy Land in biblical times, there probably were carrots. Carrots are among the best sources of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A. They are known to improve and protect vision. A study of more than 87,000 people showed that those who ate five or more servings of carrots each week were 68 percent less likely to suffer from strokes.
Dates were among the most abundant of fruits. They are high in pain-killing ingredients. They are natural laxatives, and have been and are believed to fight pancreatic and other forms of cancer.
"And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons..." (Genesis 3:6-7)
An ingredient in figs with the tongue-twisting name benzaldehyde was used in Japanese studies to shrink tumors in humans. Like dates, figs are also natural laxatives. They are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Fish was one of the most important parts of the Israelite diet. Many varieties of fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids— antiaging and antidegenerative disease substances. Doctors say that eating just an ounce of fresh fish a day can slash heart attack risk by a whopping 50 percent.
The Israelites used garlic extensively in cooking. Suffice it to say that it is probably the most potent remedy in Mother nature's medicine chest. It is a potent antibiotic, it effectively fights the blood clotting that causes heart attacks, and it boosts the immune system.
The products of the Holy Land's vineyards were used for more than making wine! They were among the many fruits eaten at meals. They contain antioxidant vitamins and substances that fight cancer. Grape juice is also antiviral.
There is no mention of beekeeping in the Bible, but wild honey was plentiful. It's a store house of natural energy. Honey contains boron, a vital mineral sadly lacking in the modern diet. It has tranquilizing powers, and can aid in healing wounds.
One of the most important foods in the Israelite diet was the lowly lentil. Esau sold his inheritance for the famous "mess of pottage," a dish of cooked lentils and some bread!
Lentils are complex carbohydrates, a nutritional category known to have substantial health benefits because they regulate the body's metabolic system. Complex carbohydrates help your body to balanced to prevent diabetes, and stave off feelings of hunger longer than most other foods. Lentils are rich in vegetable protein and fiber, nutritional weapons in the fight against colorectal cancer, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure.
Moreover, lentils help fight obesity by making you feel full longer, thus keeping you from overeating and snacking between meals. The ancient Romans also prized lentils for their health benefits. They used lentil dishes to cure diarrhea, for example.
Melons were prized throughout the Middle East, and scholars say that the Israelites probably developed a taste for these nutritious fruits during their captivity in Egypt. Melons are a rich source of beta carotene, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. They can help to prevent blood clots from forming and causing heart attacks and strokes.
The Bible mentions goat's milk and camel's milk. Both were prized for drinking, as well as for making butter and cheese. Nutritionists say that milk helps fight colon, cervical, lung and stomach cancer. Skim milk helps to prevent heart disease.
"Take thou also unto thee wheat and barley, and beans and lentils, and millet and fiches, and put hem in one vessel and make thee bread thereof ..." (Ezekiel 4:9)
Millet is rich in essential amino acids, as well as vitamins A and C, two of the three antioxidant vitamins. It also contains lecithin.
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed ..." (Matthew (13:31)
This pungent preparation is a known decongestant and expectorant. It has antibacterial properties, and can fire up the metabolism to consume unneeded calories and to burn off fat.
"I went down into the garden of nuts ...." (Solomon 6:11)
An excellent source of certain antioxidants, some nuts contain ingredients that fight heart disease and cancer. Walnuts are a source of omega-3 fatty oil, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. Three walnuts a day can help lower cholesterol.
"The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them; and they said to the olive tree: Reign over us." (Judges 9:8-9)
Olive oil help fight heart disease and strokes. It fights dangerous cholesterol buildup and reduces blood pressure.
Like garlic, onions are antibiotics, and contain a potent antioxidant. They mimic garlic in lowering cholesterol levels and preventing blood clots.
"And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins....." (Samuel 30:12)
Like apples, raisins are rich in boron, a mineral vital in the prevention of osteoporosis.
"And Boza said unto her, 'At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread and dip thy morsel in the vinegar ...' " (Ruth 2:14)
Apple cider vinegar is a rich source of potassium and a host of valuable trace minerals.
"Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately: what is life to a man that is without wine?" (Sirach 31:27)
A glass or two of red wine every day is a heart-healthy measure, scientific tests show.
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