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Foods from the Bible

Published:Thursday | March 29, 2012 | 3:00 AM

Heather Little-White, PhD, Gleaner Writer

From the book of Genesis to Revelations, the Bible makes several references to food. Genesis 1:29 reads, "I have given you every plant yielding seed, which is upon the face of the Earth and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food" - God's instruction to Adam. In Deuteronomy 8:8, the Israelites are promised "a good land ... , a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey".

Beliefnet.com provides insights on seven healthy foods from the Bible. This provides the basis for eating healthy. According to Beliefnet.com, the ancients might not have known the word 'antioxidant', but they were into eating 'super-foods'.

Apples

Song of Solomon 2:5 - Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.

Apples contain insoluble fibre which is helpful for constipation and protection against colon cancer. Rich in pectin, a fibre that controls cholesterol, apples are rich in vitamin C for the immune system and healing wounds. Apples are also rich in boron, a mineral that boosts alertness.

Wheat

Ezekiel 4:9 - Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side - (healingscripture.com). As a grain, wheat is used in the production of almost anything - from bread to pasta to cakes. It is healthiest when unrefined. Wholewheat products are high in fibre, contributing 30 per cent of the recommended daily intake. Wheat also provides high levels of manganese and magnesium. A wheat-rich diet increases energy levels and reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes, gallstones and other diseases.

Barley

Deuteronomy 8:8 - For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey.

Barley is another wholesome grain that is used in the preparation of breads and cereals and hearty soups. The high fibre content in barley makes it good for maintaining intestinal health, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of colon cancer and type-2 diabetes. Symptoms of arthritis can be reduced through the trace amounts of copper in barley.

Grapes

Numbers 13:23 - When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.

Grapes produce grape juice, red wine and raisins, all of which are healthy because grapes are rich in flavonoids, which are believed to reduce your risk of blood clots and protect your body from damage by the 'free radicals' found in LDL, or 'bad', cholesterol. Antioxidants are abundant in grapes, providing protection against cardiovascular disease, particularly in women.

Figs

1 Samuel 30:11-12 - They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David ... . They gave him water to drink and food to eat ... part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

Figs are eaten either dried or fresh and are high in potassium, which is important to blood-pressure control. A rich source of dietary fibre, figs also contain calcium, which can help preserve bone density, and B vitamins for a healthy skin. The extract from fig leaves helps to lower insulin levels in diabetics. Interestingly, early olympians wore figs as a sign of honour. Figs are now part of the Olympic symbols.

Pomegranates

Deuteronomy 8:8 - a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey.

These sweet fruits, eaten either dried or fresh, are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and circulatory disease. They are also high in dietary fibre, which may help you lose weight, and they are a fruit source of calcium, which can help preserve bone density. Fig leaves, which are not typically eaten but can be made into an extract, are thought to help lower insulin levels in diabetics. Pomegranates are suitable for edible garnishes, soups, salad, meats and desserts.

Olive oil

Numbers 18:12 - all the best of the fresh oil and all the best of the fresh wine and of the grain, the first fruits of those which they give to the Lord, I give them to you.

Olive oil, made from pressing olives, particularly the extra-virgin product which is the finest product, contains an abundance of the antioxidants that control high cholesterol. Of importance too, are the high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to reduce total cholesterol but raising 'good' cholesterol levels, keeping the arteries free from plaque. High in vitamin E, olive oil can protect against colon cancer and will reduce the conditions associated with gastritis and other stomach ailments.