This likely has to do with the fact that I was raised on a farm where we worked a large garden and ate vegetables, either fresh or canned, pretty much year round. However, given that we also raised beef, pork, and chicken on that farm, early on I came to believe the old adage that “a meal is never complete unless it has a piece of meat”. In fact, the meat was always the foundation of any meal, which was garnished with an array of vegetables. Desert of any kind was hardly ever included.
Now, some will contend that eating red meat is inherently unhealthy. A review of my ancestry shows that most of them subsisted on much the same diet and yet lived well into their eighties. In fact, it seems as though the two who lived only into their sixties (my father and grandfather) did so concurrent with the advent of slickly marketed and packaged cigarettes.
Those before them utilized tobacco as well, but nowhere to the extent that they themselves did in the mid to latter part of the twentieth century. In effect, they became chain smokers, consuming two or more packs daily. (On his 16th birthday, my father his father asked for permission to smoke openly. Sadly, he pretty much did so for the remainder of his life until his death at age 61.)
What is more, as improvements in farming methods came along, the Jackson family’s approach to agriculture naturally became more sedentary. Let’s just say that it was conducted more and more from the seat of a tractor and less and less from afoot behind a mule and a plow.
I will always believe that such a combination of factors worked to sorely tax the cardio-pulmonary systems and shorten the lives of my father and grandfather. This conviction is what compels me to exercise regularly to this day. Sitting, as they say, is the new smoking. And while I have never undertaken the latter, I do far too much of the former.
Thus, it was with more than a little curiosity that I read an article this week titled “These Are the Best Foods for Your Heart, Experts Say:”. The February 28, 2022 piece, sub-titled: “These 10 Foods Are Especially Good for Your Heart”, was written by Perri Ormont Blumberg and published on www.FoxNews.com in view of February being American Heart Month.
The ten foods included were: Dark Leafy Greens, Olive Oil, Avocados, Berries, Beans, Salmon, Whole Grains, Grapes, Walnuts, and Flaxseed.
How did you score? I did okay on most everything except for Olive Oil, Avocados, and Walnuts. I guess I’ll just have to work on developing a taste for these. You may be asking whether I actually eat flaxseed. No, but I do take a flaxseed pill twice daily. Along with Oat Bran tablets, Garlic pills, and capsules of Fish Oil, Salmon Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Krill Oil, and other such Omega-3 packed supplements. In short, if it claims to defeat high cholesterol, I take it!
Plus, while I truly love beef, pork, and chicken, and regularly eat these selections for lunch, I still choose to eat oatmeal and salmon for breakfast each and every day. Hopefully, such dietary discipline, when combined with my daily exercise routine, will allow me to live into my eighties and beyond, as so many of my forebears once did.
Now you may well be wondering why I am sharing all of this. To begin with, I know I am not alone in my concern for my physical well-being. A great many people are in today’s world. But I also know how futile it ultimately is to go to great lengths to take care of one’s body if one does not also vigorously care for his or her soul.
We live in a world where clicks matter. No doubt the article I have referenced above has drawn tens of thousands (or more) of such clicks, as curious people have joined me seeking to find out how good a job we are doing at caring for our hearts. But how many of us will take time to inquire as to how good a job we are doing at caring for our souls?
The ten foods listed above are referred to as heart-healthy superfoods precisely because of the good effect they have on our heart. It behooves us to ponder their benefits and consider consuming more of them. Likewise, it behooves us to consider what we consume spiritually, and the benefit or lack thereof that such a diet has on our souls.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to consume a regular diet of God’s Word. The 5th and 6th chapters of the New Testament Book of Hebrews make this abundantly clear. Verses 11-14 of chapter 5 encourage us to begin with consuming the milk of the Word and proceed in time to consuming the meat of the Word.
The meaning here is that new believers should study God’s Word in order to learn the most basic spiritual truths. But over time, the frequency and intensity of their study of God’s Word should increase in order that they may mature and grow strong in their faith. As chapter 6, verse 1 puts it, this is so that believers may “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity”.
Of course, the writer is not just concerned to communicate that what we consume matters for the health of our soul. He goes on to assert that we must practice spiritual exercise as well. More than any other New Testament Book, Hebrews draws on the analogy of physical exercise.
After rehearsing the faith practiced by a huge crowd of Old Testament believers in chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews begins chapter 12 by painting a picture of a marathon runner entering an ancient stadium as he or she vigorously competes for victory.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
Surely all of this raises important questions for any of us who purport to follow Christ. How’s our spiritual diet? With what do we choose to nourish our souls? And to what degree do we exercise and strengthen them?
If the answer is less than commendable to any of these questions, then how can we ever expect to grow into maturity and become strong in our faith? We are what we eat. We are what we do. For these reasons, we must nourish and nurture not only our hearts, but also our very souls!
https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/best-foods-heart-health-experts. The author, Perri Ormont Blumberg, is a contributing lifestyle reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent on Twitter at @66PerriStreet.