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What foods does the bible say are good to eat or not?

Our diet has had spiritual significance from the beginning of man’s existence.   The original sin involved diet. Adam and Eve ate what they wanted, rather than what was allowed, and we are still reaping the consequences of their rebellion:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” – Genesis 3:17

What foods did God provide?

In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve every plant that has seeds

“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be your food.” – Genesis 1:29

Plants yielding seed include:

  • Grains: wheat, corn, rye, barley, rice, oats, millet, etc.
  • Seeds: sunflower, sesame, flax, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Legumes: soybeans, lentils, peas, peanuts, other beans, etc.
  • Seeded Vegetables: eggplant, okra, bell peppers, squash, green beans, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, etc.
  • Fruits: citrus fruits, sweet fruits, palm fruits, etc.
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, cashews, brazil, walnuts, etc.

Banished from the garden of Eden, God added plants without seeds (previously food for the animals)

“And you will eat the plants of the field.” – Genesis 3:29

God originally intended for man to eat seed-bearing plants and fruits, but after Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden because of their sin, God added field plants.

  • Leaves: lettuce, beet greens, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard, spinach, etc
  • Flowers: globe artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus;
  • Roots (tubers): carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.

After the Great Flood God added meat and fish to the menu.

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” – Genesis 9:3

After the “Great Flood” God gave the Israelites further instructions to be followed under the O.T. law

God instructed the Israelites on what was good to eat and what was not.   Not only to test their obedience and respect, but also to set them apart from the world as a model nation. God promised good health to the Jewish people, and His law blessed them by affecting their social structure and stability, as well as their physical and emotional health.

“My son, pay attentionto what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.” – Proverbs 4:20-22 NIV

“If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attentionto His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” – Exodus 15:26

“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you”. – Proverbs 3:1-2

Anyone reading Leviticus chapter 11 will realize that the instructions mentioned (dietary and otherwise) were not just an arbitrary set of rules, and that in addition to showing respect to our Creator, they were also knowledgeable advice that created a stable social structure and spared them from easily preventable emotional and physical illnesses.

For example:

  • The “Do Nots”.   Do not steal, murder, lie, cheat on your spouse, or envy your neighbor’s possessions;
  • Touching certain dead bodies make us unclean until evening.  If you carry one of these carcasses — pigs, creeping things, edible animals that die by unknown causes).

Christ’s death on the cross abolished the law

We are freed from the law to be joined to Christ.    We are discharged from the law like a woman is freed from a dead husband. It would be spiritual adultery to try to practice both the old law and the law of Christ.

He abolished the old law by His blood. – Ephesians 2:13-16

“For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” – Romans 7:2-4

Does the NT specifically say that all foods (“clean”or “unclean”) are now good to eat?

Two scripture references (In Mark 7 and Acts 10) are often cited to support a view that there is no distinction between clean or unclean foods. i.e. all food / meat is now good  to eat

Mark 7

Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” Some translations add here “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean”He continued: “What comes out of a man is what makes him “unclean”. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ “ – Mark 7:15-23

This passage has nothing to do with whether we should eat clean or unclean meat.  Jesus addressed a question about why His disciples ate without washing their hands according to ceremonial traditions followed by the Pharisees. Some Bible translations have added words in parentheses in v19, suggesting that all meat is now good to eat. Christ’s point was that ingested food or dirt passes through and out of the body and does not spiritually defile a person, since it does not enter the heart to influence attitudes. i.e. We are spiritually defiled from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Also —Verse 19 could not have been referencing unclean meat because unclean meat was not even considered to be “food” for a faithful Jew in Jesus’ day.

Acts 10

Peter’s Vision: 9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. 16This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.”

Here,  Peter is given a vision to help him understand God’s future plans for the growth of the Church.   In a vision, Peter was shown a group of unclean animals and told three times to eat. Each time he adamantly declined. (vv. 13-16). Remember too, this was the Peter who supposedly heard Jesus abolish the dietary laws in Mark 7 and who was trained by Christ for 3½ years. The issue in Acts 10-11 is not a matter of clean or unclean food but the problem of the Jewish association with the Gentiles. After the vision, God arranged for Peter to go and take the Christ’s teachings to the house of the Gentile centurion Cornelius:

28“He (Peter) said to them: You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.”God’s message was that Gentiles were not to be considered “unclean” or “common” and thus unworthy of being members of Christ’s church.

What we eat or don’t eat is not the Important thing

As long as we serve Christ whatever we eat or do not eat is acceptable to God – The Kingdom of God is not concerned with our diet, but with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit:

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that in these things serves Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”– Romans 14:17-18

Those who eat all kinds of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who won’t eat everything also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.– Romans 14:6b (New Living translation) 

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”– 1 Timothy 4:1-5

This passage would seem to say that ALL creatures provide good meat for eating.    In the same way, the passage in Genesis 1:29 NIV “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” seems to say that ALL seed-bearing plants are good for food. We know, however, that because of their toxicity, we would not deliberately eat, for example, poisonous hemlock or deadly nightshade plants.

God is obviously expecting us to apply our knowledge and common sense in choosing food which will be both beneficial to our health, and which will not harm us.

Evidence of toxicity in “unclean” creatures

A wise man does not Ignore God’s advice.    Christ’s death on the cross abolished the “Book of law”, so that what we eat or don’t eat is now left to our own choosing. We could for instance, choose to eat nothing but ice-cream, even though that would eventually take its toll on our health. Likewise, the kind of meat and how much of it we eat is also up to us.

In the Old Testament, God appeared as a stern, uncompromising Father who laid down the rules and regulations, and severely punished those who disobeyed them. As our scientific knowledge progresses, the reasons behind the rules and regulations are explained.

It would behoove us to take a look at some of God’s O.T. laws from the perspective that they were given to the Israelites, not as a punishment, but as a blessing from a loving Father, in order to maintain their well-being.

“Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well-chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance.” – Dr. David L. Macht An

An informative experiment was published by the John Hopkins Press in 1953 on the toxicity-level of the meats of various creatures  (by Dr. David Macht, a man responsible for many contributions to pharmacology during the first half of the 20th century – Pharmacology is the study of the effect of drugs, toxins, sera etc. on living organisms).    Macht attained a bachelors and medical degree at John Hopkins University, where he later became assistant professor, lecturing in pharmacology. Macht published over 900 scientific studies, and three books. He also introduced several new methods of disease treatment. His many contributions include discovering the use of ephedrine as a substitute for cocaine, proving X-rays of varying wavelengths produced different biological effects, and distinguishing the sedative effect of morphine and codeine on the respiratory system from the stimulant effect of other narcotics. Macht, who was an Orthodox Jew, also received the first degree of advanced research awarded at Yeshiva College, New York, being made Doctor of Hebrew Literature.

While researching the pharmacological effects of cancer, on the properties of an individual’s blood and muscle tissue, he became interested in investigating the comparative pharmacological actions of fresh muscle juices and saline extracts of skeletal muscle tissue of different species of animals and birds mentioned in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

He did this by employing a simple method he had used for 30 years to detect toxins in blood and other body fluids of human beings, and had already identified specific toxins present in the blood of patients with pemphigus (skin disease w/itching blisters), pernicious anemia and psychotic patients.

This method measured the effect, when exposed to various body solutions, on the root growth of seedlings of Lupinus Albus, grown in strictly controlled environments (temperature, light, etc giving statistically reliable, consistent results) supplying plant-physiological solutions of salts and ions necessary for growth. For example, a toxic body solution would inhibit the root growth compared to the control sample proportional to its level of toxicity. The results he found were quite enlightening from a biblical perspective:

Toxicity level of muscle tissue in animal and birds
SPECIESCLEAN (>75% Root Growth)%CLEAN (<75% Root Growth)%
Four-Footed AnimalsCloven-hoofed ruminants: Calf; deer; goat; ox; sheep82-98%Not cud-chewing with cloven-hoofs: Black bear; camel; cat; guinea pig; dog; fox(silver); grizzly bear; ground hog, hamster, horse, opossum, rabbit, rat, rhinoceros, squirrel, swine39-62%
BirdsPredominantly eat grasses / grains: Goose; chicken; coot; duck; pigeon; quail; swan; turkey;83-98%Have omnivorous diet:  crow; ostrich; owl; red-tail hawk; sparrow hawk;
Not tested:  Bat; cormorant; eagle; falcon; hawk; heron; ibis; kite; nighthawk; osprey; pelican; raven; sea gull; stork; vulture;
FishHave fins and scales:  Black bass, black drum; bluefish; carp; channel bass; chub; cod; croaker; flounder; flying fish; goldfish; haddock; hake; halibut; herring; kingfish; mullet; pike; pompano; porgy; rainbow trout; rock bass; salmon; smelt; sea bass;shad; Spanish mackerel; spot; sturgeon; tuna (bluefin); white perch; Carolina whiting; yellow perch;80-100%Without scales and fins:  Catfish; eel; moonfish; porcupine fish; puffer; sand skate; shark (dogfish); stingray; toadfish.
Not tested
: clams; crabs; lobster; octopus; oysters; scallops; shrimp; squid;

Macht, D.I., (1953). “An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciation of Leviticus XI and Deuteronomy XIV,

–   Dr. Macht also tested the blood of all the fish species.    In every case it was more toxic than the flesh.

Dietary Laws

Do not eat the blood of animals

“You must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it” – Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 7:26,27; 19:26; Deut. 12:`6-24; I Sam. 14:32-34

After the flood, God told Noah not to eat the blood of any animal, meaning that the blood should be drained from the meat.   Meaning we can strike European “Blood sausage” (“Black Pudding” in Great Britain) off our menu! Apart from the respect issue that animal blood represented life, which was accepted by God in atonement for sin,  blood carries the body’s waste products and can also carry microbial infections and toxins.

Eat meat from plant-eating animals with split hooves

“These are the animals which you may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth… whatever divides the hoof having cloven hooves and chewing the cudThere are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. – Leviticus 11:1-4.

Animals which chew the cud are called ruminants, having multiple stomachs for digesting plants. One stomach starts the digestion, and then the food is partly regurgitated and sent to another stomach to be digested some more. (Strictly speaking rabbits are not ruminants, although at night rabbits produce and eat their own soft feces, effectively giving their food a second digestion).

Animals with split hooves that chew the cud
BeefSheep (Lamb, Mutton)Deer (Venison)
OxBison (Buffalo)Goat
IbexLlamaReindeer (sorry Rudolf!)
NOT Pig (pork) or rabbit

Pork.    This is the meat that has created most controversy.  Who doesn’t like to eat a couple rashers of fried bacon with their eggs for breakfast?  And in the southern USA, barbequed spareribs are a way of life!

“continually provoke me to my very face, . . . who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat”. – Isaiah 65:3,4

What might God be protecting us from?   It’s interesting in Matthew 8 that Jesus had no compunction about sending some demons into a large herd of pigs to be drowned? Presumably the pigs were someone’s livelihood, so it would be unlike Jesus to destroy someone’s property without reason.

Trichinosis – is caused by a small parasitic roundworm that gets into the muscle tissue of animals and humans, affecting ~60 million people worldwide. It is transmitted by eating undercooked pork and other “unclean”animals. It is most common in the developing world where pigs are fed raw garbage, but today is rarely diagnosed in the U.S., due mainly to public awareness of cooking requirements and the government restriction on the feeding of raw meat garbage to commercially raised pigs.

Tapeworms – 3% of the global population (~180 million people) have tapeworms, and the pork tapeworm can be fatal if not eliminated.

Erysipelas and typhoid.   Also carried by pigs.

Moderate meat consumption

“Be not … among those who gorge themselves with meat.” – Proverbs 23:20

Eating too much meet can increase homocysteine levels – which can induce oxidative stress 

In particular, eating too much cooked meat taxes the pancreas.   Raw meat contains the enzymes required for its digestion and since these enzymes are destroyed by cooking, the task falls to the pancreas to produce some more. This puts a strain on this busy organ, which also is required to produce the all important INSULIN to trigger glucose transport into cells. Today, type II diabetes is being diagnosed in epidemic proportion, a condition where the pancreas eventually burns itself out. Additionally, too much protein leaches calcium from the body to neutralize excess acidity in the blood – calcium is particularly essential to bone strength.

Do not eat animal covering fat

God said to Moses:

Say to the Israelites: Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats”.  – Leviticus 7:23

Animals store toxins (e.g. insecticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones) and parasites in their covering fat.    The saturated fatty acid, stearic acid, is a healthy fat used in cell membranes, however, it is found in unbalanced proportion in animal covering fat, which can have detrimental effects on our health.

Eat only non-scavenger birds

(i.e. those having a primarily vegetarian diet)

Birds on the “Can eat” list eat primarily plant parts (leaves, seeds, fruits), insects, grubs, caterpillars, and crustaceans.   In contrast, birds of prey, which were excluded in the Law, are likely to have eaten other scavengers or dead meat with its inherently high microbial level resulting from the decay process.

 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture,the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.” – Deuteronomy 12:11-18

Many of these birds are ecologically necessary scavengers, which feed on and control the population of rats, mice, reptiles, lizards, frogs and other birds. For example, storks are carnivores; their diet consists of fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, rodents and other small mammals. The Marabou stork’s diet consists primarily of dead animals including fish, insects, birds, frogs, and rodents.


Eat fish with fins and scales

“Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins AND scales in the seas . . . they shall be an abomination unto you.” – Leviticus 11:9-10

Clean, edible fish have fins and scales.   Those without fins and scales are generally bottom-feeding fish, which do a great job of absorbing toxins existing in the water. Many varieties of fish are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Eating fish for omega-3 EPA /DHA

Some Insects can Be eaten

“Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth.” – Leviticus 11:21

–   Includes only grasshoppers, locusts and crickets – all primarily herbivorous – Mmm, Mmm, Mmm !

Miscellaneous Bible References to Food

7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it;”
 – Deuteronomy 8:7-9a

“and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”

“13 He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil  from the flinty crag,14 with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashanand the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape“. – Deuteronomy 32:13-14

“Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples: for I am sick with love. – Song of Solomon 2:5

“And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins…..” – Samuel 30:12

“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

“Eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart.” – Ecclesiastes 9:7

“I went down into the garden of nuts ….” – Solomon 6:11

“The glutton shall come to poverty… and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” – Proverbs 23:2, 20

Information on some foods referenced in the bible

  • Honey.   Contains the vital mineral boron, sadly lacking in today’s diet; has tranquilizing powers, and can aid in healing wounds.
  • Raisins.    Rich in boron, a mineral used in preventing osteoporosis.
  • Dates and figs.   Natural laxatives and a good source of antioxidant vitamins and C.
  • Barley.   People in the Middle East call it “heart medicine” to this day; The loaves and fishes miracle used barley loaves.
  • Millet.   Rich in essential amino acids and antioxidant vitamins A and C; also contains lecithin.
  • Grapes.    Contain antioxidant vitamins and substances that fight cancer; juice is antiviral.
  • Lentils.   Esau sold his inheritance for the famous “mess of pottage” a dish of cooked lentils and some bread! Complex carbohydrates regulate the body’s metabolic system, prevent diabetes, fight obesity by making you feel full longer. Rich in vegetable protein and fiber.
  • Nuts.   Excellent source of certain antioxidants, a source of omega-3 fatty oil, potassium, magnesiumzinc, and vitamin E.
  • Pomegranates.   Long-time use in the Middle East, Iran and India for treating disease and infections. Pomegranates are proving to be the most powerful antioxidant available and show ability to lower LDL cholesterol oxidation.
  • Melons.   Rich source of beta carotenepotassium, and vitamins C and B6.

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What foods does the bible say are good to eat or not?

What foods does the bible say are good to eat or not?

What foods has God provided for our well-being?...
Biblical references to health

Biblical references to health

The bible supplies health tips on which foods to eat, social structure and essential oils...