Foods of the Bible

Still life painting depicting some foods of the bible.
Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Game Fowl, Vegetables and Fruits (1602), Museo del Prado Madrid

There is an abundance of research about the types of foods that are beneficial for optimum health. For those of us who believe that the Bible is the creator’s instruction manual, we seek out knowledge in its pages. Let’s look today at the beginning, at Genesis, to understand what YHWH the creator has designated as the food human beings should eat. We will delve into some other books of the Bible to deepen our understanding. In the end, we should have a clear idea of what foods of the Bible are healthful so that we can make solid decisions about the foods we choose to eat.

Table of Contents

Plants with seeds

Photo foods of the bible - seeds
Ginko seed nutritive tissue
Photo by Curtis Clark, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (Gen 1:29).

This is a large group of plants given to us by the creator to nourish our bodies. There are vegetables with their seeds in them like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumber, okra, beans. The more calorie-dense legumes are also in this group: pintos, red beans, navy beans, and even peanuts.

Included are vegetables which have seeds, but we usually eat the root before the plant goes to seed; for instance, carrots, beets, turnip, garlic, and onion. And there are the staple grains like wheat, barley, oats, and rice. In addition, this group includes seeds of every kind: sunflower, sesame, flax, chia, and surprisingly quinoa (link to nutritional benefits of seeds)

Trees provide food for us, as well. That seems easy enough: apples, bananas, pecans, avocado. I’m real happy to eat those kinds of foods. Tree nuts and olives provide necessary oils for cooking and long-burning dense calories. With this much variety, we can find something to satisfy our taste and not become bored.

Leafy greens

Photo foods of the bible, leafy greens
Spinach leaves – Photo Nillerdk CC BY 3.0

There is another category of plant foods that God provided for us—the herbs of the field. Our natural body needs leafy greens for good health. When Adam sinned and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the plants of the field became part of his diet (Gen 3:18). There aren’t many calories in the leafy greens so we don’t usually crave them like we might crave more calorie dense foods.

But leafy greens provide the important vitamins and minerals our body needs in easily digestible and usable forms. There are many to choose from no matter where you live. We have spinach, collards, kale, lettuces, and beet or turnip greens. Even in tropical climates cassava leaves provide leafy greens to the diet. We also season our food with green herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro.

We have access to many more foods than ever before with the industrialization of food production, storage and transportation. We can live nearly anywhere and receive fresh food from around the globe. These plant foods have all the nutrients we need. They are packed with the macro nutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, in addition to the micro nutrients: vitamins, minerals, enzymes.


Photo foods of the bible grains
Wheat bran has a high content of dietary fiber.
CC BY-SA 2.5

Fiber is one nutrient that is available only from vegetables. It is becoming a more commonly recognized nutrient, but it is still not consumed in healthful quantities. If most of our nutrition comes from vegetables as describe above, we will consume more fiber. Finding good information on fiber is easy. (Harvard or Mayo Clinic)


photo foods of the bible - clean meat
Lamb rib chops – Photo Tim P – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Vegetables are not the only foods of the Bible. Genesis chapter 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel, his brother, was a shepherd. We know plants are food, but meat must have been as well. Abel’s offering of the firstlings of his flock was acceptable. Killing an animal for sacrifice and for food was not wrong. We also have evidence that Noah understood about clean and unclean meats. God told him to take seven pairs of clean animals but only 2 pair of the unclean animals when he entered the ark before the flood occurred. Those clean animals were needed for food, as well as for sacrifice.

The full law of clean and unclean meats is found in Leviticus chapter 11. The chapter is summarized in verse 47, “ . . . to make a distinction between the living thing that may be eaten and the living thing that may not be eaten.” We find a few more instructions on eating the meat of animals.

“It shall be a never ending statute for your generations in all your dwellings. You shall not eat any fat or any blood” (Lev 3:17).

We know animal fat is high in cholesterol. Additionally, the blood carries impurities (germs and waste) to organs that filter it, so clean blood can circulate through the body again. It is a law forever—do not eat the fat or the blood. We are also commanded to burn the entrails (all the inner organs) for an offering and not eat them (Lev. 1:8,9 and Lev. 9:14).

A more detailed guide with poster illustrations can be found here.

Portion control

Now that we know what are foods of the Bible, we need to think correctly about what we eat. Vegetables should be our main source of nutrition with some animal protein and fats from a vegetable source. Eating the amount of calories to meet our daily needs is vitally important for good health. If our lifestyle changes we must reduce our calorie intake appropriately, and if our activity level increases we must increase our food intake.

To gain a pound of fat we overeat 3,500 calories. By eating 100 extra calories a day we gain ten pounds a year. To put it another way, going from a light activity lifestyle (one to two days of exercise) to sedentary will result in using 30 calories (one cracker, or half a banana) less a day. This means a gain of three pounds at the end of a year, 15 pounds after five years, and 30 pounds at the end of ten years. It doesn’t take much to gain excess weight. On the other hand, a few extra minutes given to climbing stairs, rather than taking an elevator, or parking at the far end of a parking lot and walking to a building can increase our activity level, use calories and provide our body with much needed exercise. See the Total Daily Expenditure Calculator.

To combat the panicky feeling that we will suffer if we don’t eat enough, we can remember the Lord’s prayer—give us this day our daily bread. Our bodies have a built in appetite sensor. When we override that sensor by overeating, or by eating addictive foods (refine sugars, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol), or by changing our eating habits, we must become aware of that sensor. We must “parent” ourselves and talk ourselves though the retraining process. This can take as long as a year before our appetite becomes accustomed to these new habits


There are many websites that expound on the virtues of their diet plan. We must use the wisdom of the Bible to discern whether there is any benefit in these diet plans. They may seem scientifically sound, but if they contradict the Bible instruction, they are not beneficial. In the Bible we find that YHWH has provided instruction on the types of food people should eat. From this vast array of Biblical foods, we can find plenty that satisfy our taste, appetite and bodily needs.