Top 3 Healing Food Myths and Legends

Like an urban myth the understanding that some foods are good for you has permeated our culture.  Did you ever stop and wonder what the urban legends of the past were.  Some of these may be myth and some may be the truth, but all of them are entertaining. 

coffee

Myth or Legend 1 Coffee 

We all know that first morning jolt that opens our eyes and helps us start our day.  In the US 54% of people over 18 drink coffee daily.  In Canada it is 63 – 65%.  For those of us on the West Coast it is no surprise that Seattle is the top consumer of coffee in the US while Quebec holds that distinction in Canada.  Worldwide the record holder is Finland! 

According to National Geographic: 

One day Kaldi the goatherd noticed his goats were dancing.  They moved from one bush to the next eating the red berries of the bush, (coffee beans), so he picked a few and ate them himself.  Soon he was dancing along with his goats!  A monk came along and witnessed Kaldi’s dance so he picked some berries and took them back for his brothers who were amazingly alert to divine intervention that night.

Coffee Fact:  Coffee is excellent for those with asthma.  If you are caught without your inhaler you can have a couple of cups of strong coffee to get you through until you can get it or see the doctor.

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Myth or Legend 2 Coconut 

Recently coconut and coconut oil have exploded into popular culture.  The health benefits of coconut are in fact legendary.  Where did this amazing food come from?  There seems to be a number of different versions of the myth of Sina and the eel but here is the one I found first.

The Samoans have the myth of Sina and the Eel.  Sina’s mother gave her daughter an eel as a pet.  When it grew it fell in love with Sina who did not return that love.  Fleeing from the eel which neither her mother or father could stop she finally ended up in Safune on the island of Savai’i.  There she begged the chiefs to kill the eel, which they did.  As it lay dying it begged Sina to bury it and it would become a tree with fruits and leaves which would be useful.  Sina buried its head in front of her home.  After a time a tree grew.  The coconut resembles the eel.  Two hard eyes are the eyes of the eel and the soft one where you can puncture it to drink the milk is the mouth of the eel.

Coconut Fact:  Coconut is being researched for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia.  The findings are excellent.  For more read Dr Mary Newport’s original article that started it all here

 choccoco

Myth or Legend 3 Chocolate

Of all the healing foods that are being praised, the most popular is chocolate.  Just the name conjures up memories of luscious treats!  We love chocolate but what did the ancients think of it?  There are so many tales of this delightful treat that it would take too long to tell them all.  Instead I will give you the most interesting ones.

Where it came from

 South America – This legend speaks of the need for balance with nature.  The God Sibu had the ability to create humans and animals from seeds.  One day he passed the seeds to another God Sura.  Sura buried the seeds and left the area for only a few moments.  Sura returned to find the trickster God Jabaru had greedily eaten all the seeds.  Jubaru slit Sura’s throat and buried him in place of the seeds,  Jubaru then happily went home to his wives.  One day he passed the spot where he had buried Sura and noticed two trees had grown there.  One tree was a Calabash and one was a Cacao.  Sibu, who was there by the trees asked Jubaru to make a chocolate drink from the fruit of the trees.  Jubaru took one of each fruit home to his wives who brewed the drink.  Jubaru took the drink back to Sibu who allowed him to drink the delicious brew first.  Jubaru being greedy, drank as much as he could as fast as he could.  Jubaru’s belly began to swell until finally it burst pouring all the seeds he had stolen back out onto the earth.  Sibu then brought Sura back to life and gave him the seeds so that humans and animals could again grow from the seeds and enjoy earth’s bounty.

Sex

Montezuma drank 50 cups of cocoa per day.  If he was having an amorous adventure he would have another one right before.

The Marquis de Sade mixed cocoa with Spanish fly to get his partners in the mood.

Women were not allowed to drink cocoa in some cultures because it was believed it would stimulate them sexually.

Trade

Cacao beans were used as currency by the Aztecs. There was a very specific pricing system.  A tamale was worth one bean, while a hand-made cotton cloak could cost between 65 and 300 beans.  The average daily wage of a porter in central Mexico was 100 beans.

Cacao Fact: 

Circulation, the online journal of the American Heart Association, sites a study that showed a 15 day diet of 100g of flavanoid rich chocolate, decreased insulin sensitivity in subjects with essential hypertension.  The study showed that chocolate reduced blood pressure, improved endothelial function and relieved insulin sensitivity. 

The best book on chocolate is Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie Maul Brothers Publishing San Diego.

So there you are, some fun and interesting legends about some of your favourite foods.

This post is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor

 

Want more food Myths and Legends.  Check out Root and Sprouts

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