Wonder Foods

silversword(9A)January 29, 2009

What foods do you consume (or want to consume) that both gives nutrition and can be used for healing?

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The chayote is a member of the cucumber family. Shaped like a large pear, the fleshy fruit with a single seed disintegrates quickly, and no plant remnants have ever been found thus far in archaeological digs. Ethno-historic, artistic and linguistic sources point the plant's origin to Mexico. For example, the plant has many names worldwide, but most appear to be derivatives of its Native American name. Pre-Colombian pottery clearly depicts the chayote. The earliest writings mentioning the plant are by Francisco Hernández, who was in Mexico in the 16th century.

Food uses:

The fruit, stem, tender leaves and the tuberous parts of the adventitious root are edible. Chayotes come in two varieties- a smooth variety and a prickly variety. The bland tasting fruit flesh requires aggressive seasoning to make it palatable for Indian tongues. The edible parts can be eaten raw or boiled as vegetable.

The fruit's softness makes it useful as children's food and as a food for invalids and convalescents. The chayote can be juiced, turned to a paste, jam, sweets, or even added to pasta. The chayote can be stuffed and baked; it can be mashed, pickled or fried.


About 100 gm of the fruit contains only 30 Calorie. Like the cucumber, the fruit is mostly water. The stem contains twice as many calories as the fruit. The root, which is rich in starch, contains nearly 80 Calorie per 100 gm. The stem is a rich source of Vitamin A precursors, and the plant as a whole contains significant amounts of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. The fruit and seeds are rich in many amino acids. The fruit is also a rich source of potassium.

Medicinal properties:

The active principles of the fruit, combined with its high water content, increase the volume and frequency of urination. Not surprisingly, in Native American medicine, the fruit is a common folk cure for all kinds of urinary disorders - including urinary infections and renal stones. The fruit is also a traditional remedy for hypertension.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:15PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

You ddon'tsee the potential for serious misleading claims with a title like that?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Dandelions are packed with biologically active substances which help the body use them more effectively. Over sixty-four nutrients and health-promoting substances have been identified as present in Dandelions. They contain more beta-carotene than carrots, more potassium than bananas, more lecithin than soybeans, more iron than spinach, and loads of Vitamins A, C, E, thiamin and riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. All these nutrients make Dandelions an effective liver tonic, blood purifier, anemia arrester, vision improver, reducer of cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and a host of other things.

Its scientific name, Taraxacum officinale, translated from Latin, means "official remedy for disorders."

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:19PM
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Adding two to three tablespoons of flaxseeds to your smoothies, oatmeal, salads or cereals daily can significantly reduce the risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer, along with providing a good source of fiber and essential fatty acids. The lignans in the flaxseeds, rather than the oil, are the cancer protective compounds. To prevent the oils from going rancid, be sure to purchase ground flaxseed in a vacuum sealed package and keep them in the freezer. Better yet, you can grind your own.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:28PM
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Artichoke has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a specific liver and gallbladder remedy. In Brazilian herbal medicine systems, leaf preparations are used for liver and gallbladder problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, anemia, diarrhea (and elimination in general), fevers, ulcers, and gout. In Europe, it is also used for liver and gallbladder disorders; in several countries, standardized herbal drugs are manufactured and sold as prescription drugs for high cholesterol and digestive and liver disorders. Other uses around the world include treatment for dyspepsia and chronic albuminuria. In France, a patent has been filed that describes an artichoke extract for treating liver disease, high cholesterol levels, and kidney insufficiency. In all herbal medicine systems where it is employed, artichoke is used to increase bile production in the liver, increase the flow of bile from the gallbladder, and to increases the contractive power of the bile duct. These bile actions are beneficial in many digestive, gallbladder, and liver disorders. Artichoke is also often used to mobilize fatty stores in the liver and detoxify it, and as a natural aid to lower cholesterol.

In the 1970s, European scientists first documented cynarin's ability to lower cholesterol in humans. Over the years, other researchers have continued to document artichoke's or cynarin's effect in this area. One of the more recent studies, published in 2000, was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study that used an artichoke leaf extract that was standardized to its cynarin content. For six weeks, 143 patients with high cholesterol were given the extract; at the end of the test, results showed a decrease of 10%-15% in total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), and ratio of LDL to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Scientists now report that the cholesterol-lowering effect of artichoke can be attributed to chemicals other than just cynarin, including several newly discovered ones.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:34PM
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We could evaluate these claims more easily if we knew what online sources silversword is apparently quoting.

Wait...the part about chayote appears to have been lifted from this site.

I suggest you limit how much of an article you quote and give the source; otherwise GardenWeb could be liable for copyright violations.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 4:53PM
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Chayote fruit cooked & mashed can be made into a pizza "dough" - choose your own topping(s).
The fruit ship & shelf to/at market without any cooling pretty well.
And so are focus of an agricultural development project in rural Haitian interior.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 6:34PM
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Not sure I classify any food as a "wonder" food but a few of the foods I consume which I consider very healthy for me are: organic yogurt, raw garlic, blueberries, hemp hearts, broccoli and many other dark green veggies, almonds, black pepper, turmeric, wild Pacific salmon. Nothing very exotic but I believe a varied diet of healthy foods with very limited "junk" food is best for the body to maintain and heal.

The link below gives some foods that are considered healthy altho I wouldn't eat some of them such as tuna and would limit the natural sugars and other high glycemic index carbs. I also don't eat low fat dairy altho eat small amounts of regular dairy.

Here is a link that might be useful: list of healthy foods

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 7:54PM
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" I believe a varied diet of healthy foods with very limited "junk" food is best for the body"

Yes, agreed. There's been a lot said (and marketed) with the idea that one or a narrow range of foods and beverages is "perfect" or a "wonder", but it's doubtful there are any magic bullets.

I like what Michael Pollan suggested about changing to a healthier diet.

"Eat less. Mostly plants."

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:35PM
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Thanks Eric, I didn't realize I missed my citations. Here they are, in case anyone is interested in reading further:



Flax seed:


    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 10:53AM
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Hi Gringo,
I really like Chayote, the tips are particulary delicious when lightly steamed. What I like about chayote is how mild it is, we could add it to just about anything, and the whole plant is edible.

I'm not advocating that there is a magic bullet food, I think diversity is important. But I think there are several foods that are amazing for nutritional content, growing ability and medicinal uses.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 6:48PM
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Hi. I agree with Silversword re dandlions & recall the old greeting, How's your liver? This time of year, I zap everyone with dandelion tea at the first sign of peakedness. I garden it enthusiastically in my yard, to the high amusement of my neighbors.... Right now, I'm also grooving on Camelina oil-- Camelina sativa-- aka false flax. Very high omega contents, plus, it's a cover crop!!! that has very high yields if you harvest it instead of plow it under. Better yet, doesn't burp like fish oil & can be used in cosmetic applications as an elastin, although it does kinda smell like peanut butter when you mix it with cocoa butter....

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 11:58PM
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Hi Simplemary,
I've never heard of Camelina oil, I'll have to check it out.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:04AM
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You can get food grade camelina from Camden Grey essential oils (they sell extra virgin). I've been looking for local sources but our natural foods stores up here haven't hooked into it yet. Good luck

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:08PM
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Thank you Simple for posting the supplier!

I also have really come to like Acai fruit and eat it pretty often.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 2:13PM
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mcfaroff(z5/6 NM)

Hi, folks, i have just planted camelina seeds in my field. I liked it because, among other things, it very easy to grow. The high omega-3 makes it good chicken food, and hopefully cheaper than the organic grain I buy. It was difficult to find the seed but I did find some in Washington. Lentz spelt farm has it. Gloria

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:26PM
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