“Nutrition 101” with The Almighty Professor

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

I hope y’all are enjoying a wonderful day of rest, relaxation, and delicious, nutritious food!

Speaking of food, today I’d like to share a few fascinating things I discovered about the stuff back when I was writing my book Fit for Faith, namely that creation truly does testify about its Creator like Romans 1:20 tells us, and that just about anything in nature can move us to worship if we regard its splendor long enough and thoughtfully consider its intricacies – even something as plain as a parsnip or common as a kidney bean.

My last semester of college, I took a nutrition course that taught all about the vital nutrients found in fruits and vegetables as well as which diseases those nutrients help prevent and which bodily functions they facilitate. While studying for my first exam, I tried to cleverly devise an easy way to memorize which food did what. If only I’d known that many of the answers can be found in the food themselves!

If looking up at the night sky isn’t enough to make you marvel at our Maker’s handiwork, maybe you should try slicing open a tomato. It turns out that a food’s mere appearance indicates its importance to our bodies. The following chart illustrates a few examples:

Food Appearance Function
Tomato Red, 4 chambers (like the human heart) Contains lycopene, an inhibitor of heart disease
Walnut Looks like a brain with a left and right side and upper cerebrum and lower cerebellum. Even the wrinkles on the nut resemble the brain’s neo-cortex Help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb Look like bones These vegetables are 23% sodium, just like bones. A lack of sodium in the diet forces the body to pull it from the bones, weakening them. These foods replenish the body’s skeletal needs.
Grapes Hang in a heart-shaped cluster, and each grape resembles a blood cell Contain flavonoids and phytonutrients that decrease risk of heart disease
Kidney Beans A no-brainer, these look like kidneys! Heal and help maintain kidney function
Sweet Potatoes Look like the pancreas Balance the glycemic index within diabetics
Eggplant, Pears, Avocados Look like a woman’s cervix and womb Balance hormones, help shed unwanted birth weight, prevents cervical cancer. It takes 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit!
Olives Look like ovaries Assist the health and function of the ovaries
Oranges, Grapefruits, other Citrus Fruits Resemble mammary glands of females Assist breast health and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts
Carrots A sliced carrot looks like the human eye Greatly enhance blood flow to the eyes
walnut brain
Walnuts help deliver over 3 dozen neuro-transmitters for brain function!
tomato heart
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an inhibitor of heart disease.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? This knowledge gives us even more motivation to eat salads chock-full of garden goodness and enjoy the sweetness of citrus on sweltering summer days. And how fun to know exactly what your pre-workout orange or post-workout sweet potato is doing for your body, besides providing energy and revving up your metabolism.


A Color-Coded Cornucopia

Not only can foods’ looks give us a clue as to their function, but their colors advertise which vitamins and minerals they feature. I was definitely thankful to know this much while taking my nutrition class.

Color Nutrients  Functions Examples
Green Chlorophyll, calcium, folate, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin Reduce cancer risks, lower bloods pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, fight harmful free radicals, boost immune system activity Green apples, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, limes, avocados, zucchini, kiwifruit, green pears, leafy greens, green grapes, okra, peas, artichokes
Red Lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, Hesperidin Lower blood pressure, reduce risk of prostate cancer, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge free radicals, support joint tissue in arthritis cases Cherries, red apples, red bell peppers, guavas, red onions, red pears, strawberries, watermelons, tomatoes, red grapes, raspberries, radishes
Orange/Yellow Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene, potassium, flavonoids, vitamin C Reduce age-related macular degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, encourage alkaline balance, work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones, fight harmful free radicals Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oranges, carrots, cantaloupe, papayas, peaches, mangos, pineapples, yellow beets, yellow peppers, yellow summer squash, yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, tangerines, yellow apples, rutabagas
Blue/Purple Zeaxanthin, lutein, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, Quercetin, ellagic acid Support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol levels, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, limit the activity of cancer cells, act as anticarcinogens in the digestive tract Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, purple grapes, pomegranates, prunes, raisins, purple figs
White Beta-glucans, EGCG, lignans Provide powerful immune-boosting activity, activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, balance hormone levels, reduce risk of hormone-related cancers Cauliflowers, dates, jicama, bananas, parsnips, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, white corn, white peaches, white nectarines

food rainbow

So next time you’re in doubt in the buffet line, pretend your plate is an artist’s palette and load on the colors! After all, God said you were a masterpiece (Psalms 139:14)!

Fit Fact: To save money, buy foods that are in season and grown locally.

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