The Doctrine of Signatures: Food Look-Alikes

Finding it difficult to remember which health foods benefit which parts of the body? Don’t worry! There are some healthy foods that actually resemble the body part it’s good for. This gives a new meaning to the expression “You are what you eat.”

This age-old concept is called The Doctrine of Signatures, an herbal philosophy from ancient times that involves using foods that look like certain parts of the body to treat certain diseases. Today, some of the tenets in that doctrine continue to ring true.

Carrots and the Eyes

Carrots promote good vision, especially night vision. They are chock full of beta-carotene, which guards your eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. You can eat carrots raw or lightly steamed. You can also enjoy the healthy benefits of carrot juice.

You can try our carrot cupcakes or our tasty chilled carrot gazpacho.

Walnuts and the Brain

Walnuts have long been considered good for the brain. They are rich with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids that also have positive effects on mood. Like many antidepressants, walnuts work to boost the brain’s serotonin levels. The healthy oil also works at lowering cholesterol as well. They are a delicious addition to savory dishes like salads, oatmeal and stuffing. Try not to eat too many, however, as walnuts are high in calories. Try to limit your serving to 1oz or 14 walnut halves.

You can try our gluten-free apple walnut amaranth or Jennifer Esposito’s gluten-free blueberry walnut scones.

Celery and Bones

In two clinical studies, celery and celery seed extract was successfully used to treat arthritis and muscular pain. It’s also a good source of calcium and silicone, vital minerals for your bones. One cup of celery has 40 mg of calcium. You can eat celery raw, juiced, or you can lightly steam it and add it to soups or stir-frys.

You can try our celery-filled chicken matzo ball soup or our kitchen sink soup.

Ginger and the Stomach

Ginger helps settle your stomach and get rid of both diarrhea and nausea. One early study suggested that it may be more effective at treating nausea than dramamine! It works to slow an upset GI tract, so it’s great for airplane or boat rides. It is also a great carminative, which means it helps to eliminate extra gas from the intestinal tract. You can make ginger tea or ginger lemonade. You can also combine ¼ teaspoon of grated ginger, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of tamari, 4 tablespoons of raw sesame oil, and 1 smashed clove of garlic to make a stomach-soothing salad dressing.

Try our banana-ginger energy smoothie or our ginger swiss chard chicken stir fry.

Mushrooms and the Ears

Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, which helps keep your hearing strong. Lack of vitamin D not only weakens your bones, it also weakens your hearing. This is because your hearing depends on the vibrations of tiny bones in your ear that must also remain strong and healthy. It also has many anti-cancer properties. Mushrooms can be prepared in a multitude of ways for a myriad of dishes.

Try our beef and mushroom shepherd’s pie or Hungry Girl’s portobello mushroom meal expander.

Sweet Potatoes and the Pancreas

Many cases of diabetes, especially type I diabetes, come from problems with the pancreas’ ability to regulate insulin, which is important to control blood sugar. The pancreas-shaped sweet potato helps to balance blood sugar in diabetics. Research shows that sweet potatoes contain adiponectin, the same hormones that are released from fat cells. Adiponectin tends to improve metabolism and insulin regulation. Unlike other starchy vegetables, sweet potatoes are considered to be an “anti-diabetic food.”

To enjoy the taste of our sweet potatoes, try Rip Esselstyn’s sweet potato & vegetable lasagna or our gluten-free sweet potato hash with eggs.

Tomatoes and the Heart

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, which helps protect against heart disease. The red carotene has been shown to protect against cataracts, macular degeneration and various cancers. Lycopene neutralizes harmful oxygen free radicals before they can cause damage to your body.

Try our tomato-avocado salsamole or Ellie Krieger’s roasted tomato and black bean soup with avocado-mango salad.

Red Wine and the Blood

Because blood travels all over the body, healthy blood means a healthy body. Red wine comes from grapes, which is rich in heart-healthy resveratrol. This polyphenol helps to destroy unhealthy substances in the blood, like bad cholesterol. The antioxidants also help to clean the blood and help safeguard against chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. Try drinking one glass of red wine a day.

Health & nutrition facts courtesy of “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods” by Michael Murray, N.D.