4 Ancient Foods That’re Back from the Past (and More Popular Than Ever)

4 Ancient Foods That’re Back from the Past (and More Popular Than Ever)

Sooner or later, everything old is new again. And guess what – that also goes for the kinds of healthy foods we eat!

Steven King’s quote from The Colorado Kid has become a relevant cliché when it comes to healthy eating. When foods from our past return as ‘new foods’, it isn’t necessarily seen as a step back in terms of human nourishment – in fact, it can be a good thing.

“What is long familiar to humans implies what we’re adapted to,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

The following four foods are old-school staples that have come full circle, becoming the hottest up-and-coming culinary trends for the New Year. These superfoods aren’t only delicious and flexible, but offer various health benefits from lowering your risk of disease, to improving your digestive health.

Kombucha

Scholars say the fermented tea originated in China in 220 B.C., where it was used for detoxification – hence the shorthand ‘tea of immortality’.

superfoods kombucha tea

While the tea won’t stop death indefinitely, it’s overflowing with probiotics (which is good for you). The bacteria thrive during fermentation, making them plentiful in every sip. Probiotics are especially beneficial to the digestive system, balancing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in your body, keeping everything working like it should.

Kimchi

The fermented cabbage dish has become so popular in the U.S., it’s estimated 1 in 50 American restaurant menus feature the inimitable superfood.

Kimchi provides the elusive triple-whammy: made from a fiber-rich veggie, it’s packed with antioxidant-rich spices, and most importantly, filled with that must-have, pro-gut, probiotics.

healthy food probiotics

“Research has shown how the balance of microbes in your system can impact immunity, so eating probiotics is an important part of digestive health,” explains Janet Helm, RD, a Chicago-based nutritionist, and author of the blog Nutrition Unplugged.

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Kimchi is said to keep constipation and unwanted weight at bay, as well as strengthening the immune system.

Chia Seeds

Ancient Aztec warriors are said to have wolfed down handfuls of energy-rich chia seeds before battle.

healthy food nutrition chia seeds

They (surprisingly) aren’t used to improve a warrior’s vitality nowadays, but as a way to improve cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and lower the risks of heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids facilitate all of those benefits, which can be found in everything from Greek yogurt, to tea, or fruit-infused juice packs.

As an added bonus, each ounce carries 11 grams of fiber, meaning they’re filling, which will help you curb your appetite.

Seaweed

If you follow a traditional Asian diet, seaweed was never not popular – it’s been a go-to vegetable for thousands of years in the East.

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healthy popular superfoods

“One of the biggest benefits is its iodine content; you need sufficient iodine for your thyroid and healthy breast tissue,” says Elizabeth Boham, MD, medical director of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Mass.

The underwater plant is also a source of key minerals, like calcium and iron.

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