In Biblical times, dates were considered the king of the earth’s produce. Eaten fresh or dried, or fermented into beer, the otherworldly taste was highly prized. In addition, dates were known to be a source of energy and vitality. Today, we know that dates are high in tannins, which can protect against inflammation, infection and bleeding. Dates are also rich in antioxidant flavonoids, which have been shown to be protective against heart disease and cancer, particularly of the colon, lung, prostate, uterus and pancreas. In spiritual terms, dates represent peace and perfection.
Grapes on the vine are colorfully beautiful. When eaten they are so refreshing and delicious. For centuries grapes have been made into juice or wine and added into countless beverages to enhance and sweeten. Especially in the summer, they are enjoyed just as is— God-given packets of cool, flavorful refreshment. But grapes are also natural factories of super healthful compounds, called polyphenols, that protect the body against inflammation and deterioration. Resveratrol is one of these polyphenols that has gotten a lot of press because of its potential to defend the body against aging, and the mind against dementia. But there are dozens of other healthful polyphenols in grapes as well. Together they pack a powerful nutritional punch. Grapes have been shown to reduce cancer risk, particularly of the lung, uterus, prostate and colon; and to reduce inflammation and lower coronary artery disease risk. On the spiritual level, grapes represent our ability to enjoy what is beautiful in the world in a healthy and appropriate way.
Bursting with an earthy sweetness and warmth, figs are most often eaten dried. But they are uniquely delicious fresh as well. For years, most Americans experienced figs only as the chewy filling of a famous cookie. But figs have been undergoing something of a renaissance and becoming more of an appreciated delicacy, as they were in the times of the Bible. There is also a growing interest in the nutritional benefits of figs, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Figs have been shown to be helpful lowering blood pressure, stabilizing diabetes and protecting against macular generation. In the spiritual realm, figs represent the ability to form warm close relationships.
In Biblical times, pressing olives for oil was a major industry and a foundation of world commerce. Olives were extremely valuable and were considered highly beneficial. Today, science has enabled us to identify many of the powerful health promoting nutrients present in olives. For example: Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to protect against many forms of cancer, particularly of the breast and stomach. Oleuropein can defend against bone loss and inflammation. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. These remarkable health benefits make olives a valuable superfood today, just as they were in the time of the Bible. In the spiritual realm, olives represent our ability to be positive and productive under pressure; to become more elevated people through meeting and overcoming challenges.
Exotic and mysterious, pomegranates for generations were known mostly in the Middle East and the Orient. But nowadays, if you look closely, you’ll see dozens of products in the supermarket flavored with “pomegranate”. The reason is that modern research has shown absolutely astounding health benefits to pomegranate, and everyone wants it on their label. But of course flavor isn’t enough. For the health benefits, you need real pomegranate. Pomegranate is loaded with hundreds of polyphenol compounds that are only just beginning to be categorized and examined. Pomegranate has been shown in a widely quoted study to actually get rid of existing coronary artery plaque by 35% after a year of taking it daily. There is no prescription medicine that can even come close to this result. In addition, pomegranate shows great potential against cancer, particularly of the prostate. On the spiritual level, pomegranate is a counterpoint to figs. While figs are uniformly sweet and tasty, the sweetness of pomegranates is only in the seeds, which are embedded in the inedible rind. Pomegranate represents the ability to embed in our lives the performance of significant good deeds.
These grains have been physical and spiritual staples since the time of the Bible. Eaten toasted or ground into flour and baked in hundreds of ways, distilled into alcohol or fermented into beer, it’s hard to imagine life without wheat and barley. But what people may not realize, is what nutritional powerhouses these grains are. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, wheat and barley have been shown to protect against stroke and heart disease by decreasing risk of arterial plaque. They have also demonstrated an ability to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity be stabilizing metabolism. They can increase bowel health and regularity and decrease the risk of colon cancer. These grains are twin staples of our spiritual diet as well. Wheat represents the ability to reach out beyond our own concerns in order to help others. Barley represents the potential to bring our most selfish desires and tendencies under control.
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