One who thinks deeply upon the Qur'an's verses will realize that Allah has provided all sorts of explanations in His Book and shown people several ways to make life easy in both this world and the next world. Another subject that attracts the attention of people of understanding is the Qur'an's mentioning of specific foods that are good for human health.
The Qur'an mentions several fruits that modern science has shown to have a preventive effect on several diseases. Fruits, which benefit the human body in many ways, also taste very good. In the Qur'an, Allah draws attention to their diversity and beauty and calls people to ponder upon their miraculous creation:
He sends down water from the sky from which We bring forth growth of every kind, and from that We bring forth the green shoots and from them We bring forth close-packed seeds, and, from the spathes of the date-palm, date clusters hanging down, and gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar. Look at their fruits as they bear fruit and ripen. There are signs in that for people who believe. (Surat al-An'am: 99)
Allah creates various kinds of fruit, each of which have a different taste and smell although they grow in the same soil and are watered with the same water.
As well as their creation, the fact that fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and essential nutrients also leads people to think. Fruits, which grow in black mud extract from the soil only those essential nutrients (minerals) that are beneficial to human health. But how could the soil know what nutrients to provide? Similarly, could the fruit have the ability and intelligence to break down the soil into its component parts in order to absorb from it the exact amount of what it needs? However, this system operates in such a perfect order that every plant species has a specific and unique color, taste, and smell and contains a fixed amount of minerals and vitamins. For instance, a watermelon is never blue or sour, nor does it smell like soil instead of the special and unique smell that we associate with it.
Allah, the sole owner and governor of the universe, created this order and displayed it to humanity so that people can reflect upon it and thank Him.
The Qur'an mentions so many kinds of fruit, which will be available for believers in Paradise. In this section, we will briefly discuss their benefits of the fruits that are referred to in the Qur'an.
Bananas are also mentioned in the Qur'an as one of the fruits of Paradise:
Amid thornless lote-trees, and banana-trees (with fruits), one above another. And extended shade, and water flowing constantly, and abundant fruit, neither intercepted nor forbidden. (Surat al-Waqi'a: 28-33)
As with all other blessings, the bananas enjoyed by believers in Paradise will be far more perfect than any bananas we can imagine in this world. After all, the bananas will never become rotten and will have a taste and smell that we cannot now imagine. However, in this world too, Allah has created a fruit very similar to that of Paradise and has placed it at our disposal.
Bananas, a very nutritive fruit, consists of water (75%), protein (1.3%), and fats (0.6%). Each banana also contains carbohydrates and a considerable amount of potassium. Besides helping to cure many diseases, bananas are especially recommended for fever, digestive system disorders, cramps, and muscle slackness. The vast amount of potassium that it contains (0,24%) facilitates the excretion of waste products from the body.15
Bananas decrease blood pressure and are used to treat allergies. Their potassium functions together with sodium, promotes cell and muscle development, and regulates the body's water equilibrium and heartbeat. Any change in the sodium-potassium balance causes various disorders in the nervous and muscular systems. This is why a person must maintain his or her body's potassium equilibrium. Besides, since a potassium deficiency leads to edema and decreases the amount of sugar circulating in the blood, it is essential to maintain this balance.16
Bananas, which are rich in vitamin B6, also play a significant role in triggering the chemical reactions of proteins and amino acids, and are instrumental in keeping the brain's functioning normal. They promote red cell production, keep the chemical balance among bodily fluids, help energy production, and provide endurance against stress. Their carbohydrates function as helper enzymes in the metabolic processing of fats and proteins. In addition, bananas cure anemic diseases (a deficiency in the number of red blood cells or in their hemoglobin content), are instrumental in developing cells and muscles, maintain the body's liquid balance, and cure heart diseases. On the other hand, a deficiency in one's vitamin B6 may result in fatigue, affect one's ability to concentrate, and result in irritability, insomnia, anemia, kidney calculi, skin diseases, and so on.17
The Creator of mankind has created this beneficial fruit and drawn our attention to its benefits. Allah states that He has given people everything that they desire and need, and has warned them not to be among the ungrateful:
He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrongdoing, ungrateful. (Surat Ibrahim: 34)
By means of it We produce gardens of dates and grapes for you, in which there are many fruits for you and from which you eat. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 19)
Grapes, which are highly nutritive and rich in vitamins and metallic substances, are an important food. About 20-25% of their content is sugar, which quickly enters the bloodstream. Therefore it is good for those who make physical and mental efforts, for it removes physical and mental weariness and fights anemia. The plentiful amount of iron and sugar contained within each grape also fosters blood production and acts as a natural medicine for liver, kidney, and digestive system diseases. They stimulate the kidneys and help them excrete such waste matters as urea. By discharging the body's excess water, grapes lower high blood pressure.18 Patients with stomach ulcers, gastritis, joint inflammations, small intestines inflammation, rheumatism, tumid liver or spleen, as well as those who have been poisoned, are recommended to drink grape juice.19 Grapes also strengthen the heart's muscles, are instrumental in treating bronchitis and coughing, and enhance the skin's beauty by purifying the blood.20 Since it increases the secretion of milk, nursing mothers are advised to drink grape juice. Some chemicals found in grapes even decrease the probability of skin cancer.21
He produces gardens, both cultivated and wild, and palm-trees and crops of diverse kinds, and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar. Eat of their fruits when they bear fruit, pay their due on the day of their harvest, and do not be profligate. He does not love the profligate. (Surat al-An'am: 141)
Pomegranates, another fruit mentioned in the Qur'an, contain a plentiful supply of potassium as well as such minerals as phosphorus, calcium, iron, and sodium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C. Acting together with sodium, potassium regulates the body's water equilibrium and ensures that the heart beats normally. By maintaining the body's potassium-sodium balance, it also helps the nervous and muscular senses to function regularly, prevents edema, and decreases the amount of sugar circulating in the blood. Pomegranates revive tired muscles and enable them to move easily,22 and also strengthen the heart.23
He sends down water from the sky. From it you drink, and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds. By it He makes crops grow for you, as well as olives and dates and grapes and fruit of every kind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. (Surat An-Nahl: 10-11)
Recent studies have revealed that olives are not only tasty, but also are a healthy source of food. Their linoleic acid is especially useful for breast-feeding mothers. Any deficiency in this acid slows a child's development and contributes to some skin diseases. Health organizations, among them the World Health Organization, recommend that people living in societies with high arteriosclerosis and diabetes rates consume oil that contains at least 30% linoleic acid. And this raises the olive's worth.24
Olives' benefits are not limited to linoleic acid. For example, the chlorine that they contain promotes the liver's functioning and thus facilitates the body's discharge of waste products. Since it also contributes to the body's skeleton, olives help to give the body strength and long life. They also are good for healthy cerebral arteries.25
Apart from these benefits, olive oil is a very important source of human nourishment. Contrary to solid butters, olive oil does not increase the level of cholesterol in the blood; rather, it keeps it under control and thus is the oil that doctors most recommend. Meanwhile, whether hot or cold, it reduces the amount of digestive acids and thus protects the stomach from such diseases as gastritis and ulcers.26
Activating bile secretion, it ensures that bile's composition develops into its perfect state. Furthermore, it regulates the gall bladder's evacuation and reduces the possibility of gall bladder calculi.27
Research also has revealed that olive oil has some ability to prevent the development of coronary artery disease by reducing the level of LDL, a cholesterol detrimental to health, while increasing the level of beneficial cholesterol HDL in the blood.28
Vitamins E, A, D, and K in oil are essential for bone development and mineralization in children and adults. It strengthens bones by stabilizing calcium. Olive oil is vital for developing organisms. Such antioxidant elements and fatty acids as linoleic acid, which is of great importance to people, promote hormones and biological cell membrane synthesis. Since these vitamins renew cells, they also are used to treat problems associated with ageing and to feed and preserve the skin.
Since it contributes to the natural development of the infant's brain and nervous system before and after birth, the only oil recommended to mothers by specialists is olive oil. Aside from having a level of linoleic acid very close to that of mother's milk, it functions as a natural source of nourishment as mother's milk when mixed with non-fat cow's milk. Still, olive oil's most significant health property is its effects upon cardiac and arterial diseases. Due to all of these features, olive oil has attracted the attention of specialists in recent years.29
In the earth there are diverse regions side by side and gardens of grapes and cultivated fields, and date-palms sharing one root and others with individual roots, all watered with the same water. And We make some things better to eat than others. There are Signs in that for people who use their intellect. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 4)
Dates, a fruit mentioned in Surah Maryam , grow in dry soil in warm climates and have many benefits. Allah indicates their healing power by telling Maryam, who was in labor, to eat dates:
A voice called out to her from under her: "Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes " (Surah Maryam: 24-26)
Allah draws our attention to dates for a purpose. Examining its properties gives us a better grasp this purpose.
Dates, which are more than 50% sugar, are extremely nourishing, for they contain fructose and glucose that are high in calories, and can be digested easily and quickly.30 Its sugar calms frazzled nerves and ensures psychological security. Giving birth involves the loss of blood, which obviously reduces the amount of blood sugar. As that sugar must be restored, dates are quite useful. In addition, dates prevent any reduction in blood pressure. Although meat is very beneficial, it may not be as beneficial as fresh dates in all cases. Eating too much meat, which contains an abundant amount of protein, at such a time may even cause poisoning. Thus, such light foods as vegetables and fruits, which are easy to digest, should be preferred.
In light of this verse, we see that dates are especially beneficial for pregnant and breast-feeding women. They promote healthy fetal development in the mother's womb, prevent the mother from weakening, and make her milk abundant and nourishing.31
At the same time, they are of great benefit to the brain. Dates, which consist of 2.2% protein, also contain vitamins A, B1, and B2. These proteins protect the body against disease and infection, enable body cells to regenerate, and balance bodily fluids. Vitamin A increases eyesight and bodily strength, as well as the strength of bones and teeth. Vitamin B1 facilitates the nervous system's healthy functioning, helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy, regulates appetite and digestion, and enables the metabolism of proteins and fats. Vitamin B2 facilitates the burning of those proteins, carbohydrates, and fats required for supplying energy and cell renewal.
Apart from these, dates contain minerals that are essential to the body (e.g., potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, and copper). When potassium and sodium act together, they regulate the heart's pulsation rhythm. By facilitating the transfer of oxygen to the brain, potassium enables clear thought. Furthermore, it provides the appropriate alkaline property for bodily fluids, stimulates the kidneys to excrete toxic metabolic wastes, helps to lower high blood pressure, and promotes healthy skin formation.32
It is also interesting to note that a date's content is especially beneficial for people who live in areas where it is generally grown. Its protein and sugar are the most nourishing nutrients for desert people.
We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility, and the period of his weaning was two years: "Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination." (Surat Luqman: 14)
This verse draws our attention to the importance of breastfeeding a baby for 2 years. As is known, a mother's milk is the only source of food that meets all of a baby's needs. At the moment of birth, Allah places each baby under His protection and provides him or her with a nourishing drink that has no counterpart in any source or type of external nourishment.
This is vital for the baby, because from the moment a baby opens its eyes to this world, its body must adapt to a new life. To facilitate this adaptation, the baby needs to be nourished and grow in the best way possible.
Mother's milk is a perfect source of nourishment and increases both the baby's and the mother's resistance to disease. Doctors agree that artificially produced baby foods should be used only when the mother's milk is insufficient, and that the baby must be breastfed, especially during its first months, because no other nutrient material can fully substitute for a mother's milk.
It is also miraculous that every mother's milk, as regards its density and quality, is produced according to her baby's specific and unique needs. For example, the milk of a mother who gives birth prematurely is quite different from that of a mother who completes a full-term pregnancy.
A mother's milk is also antibacterial. Kept at room temperature for 6 hours, bacteria start to develop in cow's milk. However, this is not the case with mother's milk. A mother's perfect milk, which a baby can digest easily, cannot be matched by any man-made baby food.
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