The Top 13 Ancient Foods We Still Love Today

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chia seedsA lot of the foods you hear about on the television or the internet might seem like a lot of hype, but in reality they have been around for quite some time.

There are some pretty ancient foods still gracing our menus today. Some of them are just starting to make a comeback as we learn more about their health benefits.

Many ancient dishes are surprisingly healthy. Following is a countdown of the top 13 ancient foods making a modern day comeback. Most of these foods were once enjoyed for their simplicity or health benefits and today they are being enjoyed for basically the same reasons.

13. Zaatar

You may or may not have heard of the dish called zaatar, depending on where you grew up and your culinary palette. It may seem like an obscure name, but it’s a dish that has been enjoyed as part of the Mediterranean diet for several thousand years. Today, it is mostly served in the Middle East, but it is slowly being recognized throughout the rest of the world.

breadSo what is zaatar? It’s a very easy-to-make mix of spices that can be mixed with flour to make bread or used in other dishes.

The seasonings used to make the mix include sumac, sesame seed, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and finally salt. Different regions might add their own flavor to the mix as well.

The internet has made it possible for people from different cultures to share their recipes with anyone will to read them. This has caused zaatar to spur in popularity in many new countries, including America.

12. Kombucha

Kombucha is more of a drink than a food, but it’s another cultural favorite that is making a big comeback in new parts of the world. The drink is basically fermented tea, whether green or black. It originates from China as far back as 5,000 years.

It was once referred to as an “elixir of health”. The drink was sold in America in as early as the 1990’s. It has taken some time to catch on, but the drink is becoming extremely popular today. Not only because it tastes great, but because it is believed to do some great things for the body.

11. Amaranth

proteinAmaranth is a lesser-known grain originating from South America. It is a healthy substitute for rice that is loaded with nutrients and protein.

It was relatively unknown in North America for some time until the internet brought it into the spotlight once again.

Shortly afterwards it became a favorite among body builders who were looking for healthy sources of protein. It’s a great addition to the diet for anyone trying to put on some muscle mass, but there’s a lot more to this ancient food than a high protein level. It’s also rich in other important nutrients, including iron, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

10. Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder is a very common ingredient in Indian dishes. It’s not yet a staple in American households, but it’s growing in popularity as more people learn of its health benefits. Anyone who enjoys Indian food on a regular basis is already getting plenty of exposure. Turmeric is a very effective and completely natural anti-inflammatory.

At the same time, it’s also working as antibacterial agent and anti-oxidant. That’s three health benefits packed into one simple ingredient that tastes great as well. We’ll definitely being seeing more turmeric powder in Western countries as people become more health-conscious about their meals.

9. Pomegranate

PomegranateThe ancient Mediterranean diet was filled with delicious, healthy foods and the pomegranate was certainly one of the best. It is believed cultivation began in what is now Iran many thousands of years ago.

The pomegranate has been a fan-favorite for hundreds of years now, even in America. It was introduced to California as early as 1769.

Since then it has only continued to grow in favoritism as one of the healthiest fruits available. Today, the fruit grows in many countries across the globe, from China to America. Pomegranate, being that it is a fruit, is a versatile ingredient. It can be enjoyed as a snack, with a meal, or as a juice and all with their own unique benefits.

8. Bone Broth

Bone broth can be a complete meal and its one that has been used in all regions of the world for quite some time. Some regions put more emphasis on spicing up their meals with unique flavors. For example, bone broth in Asia primarily consisted of fish bones. In Europe, the bone broth from cattle was used for stews, soups, and even sauces.

Any food with versatility is always good and that’s what you get with a broth. Broths can be consumed alone as a soup and they are very healthy. It can also be used to cook other meats and adds a great flavor. It’s an ancient food that will remain popular for as long as people have leftover bones.

7. Millet

milletMillet is a healthy grain that has been cultivated since ancient times. It was mentioned in the Bible and has been a part of many diets in India and parts of Africa.

The most commonly cultivated form of millet is pearl millet. It’s always been favored because it grows fast and can withstand some very hot temperatures.

Millet was once seen only in developing countries where it was hot and affordable. Today, many different countries are embracing the millet and its many uses, ranging from alcoholic beverages to delicious candy.

6. Lamb

Many people are surprised to learn that China leads the polls when it comes to sheep cultivation with an impressive 175 million heads of sheep estimated in 2013 alone. That number is constantly climbing and is likely much higher this year. China also leads when it comes to producing lamb, which is the meat from a domesticated sheep. The sheep is known for producing three types of meat, the hogget, the lamb, and the mutton.

Of the three, the lamb is the most popular and the most expensive. Lamb has been sought after since ancient times and is a center piece for some of the most delicious meals of the modern era. Most cultures around the globe embrace lamb in some form or another. It’s very common on a stick in much of China. In India and surrounding countries it is made into a spicy rogan josh.

5. Lentil Soup

lentil soupLentil soup can refer to any soup where lentil is the primary ingredient. This includes a few different meat soups and even some very popular vegetarian soups.

It’s not the prettiest soup in the world, but it’s very simple and healthy, which was all it needed to become popular in ancient times. It’s becoming popular again for the exact same reasons.

The lentil plant itself has been cultivated as far back as 8,000 BC. It’s one of the oldest foods on the list, but is still less common in America and other Western countries. It can still be found if you know where to look. Otherwise, it’s very easy to make the soup at home if you can find the lentil.

4. Sweet Potatoes

You might not think “ancient food” when you think of sweet potatoes, but they have been around for longer than most imagine. These are believed to have been cultivated in parts of Central America around 5,000 years ago. Other, even older, sites have been located in South America. Sweet potatoes might have been one of the best kept secrets in the world, but it eventually spread to other parts of the world.

It is believed to have spread to Hawaii and then New Zealand. There is even a legend that says Christopher Columbus tried sweet potatoes during his visit to the Americas and demanded he have some to take home to Europe. Today, people all over the world enjoy sweet potatoes. It is particularly popular in America during Thanksgiving.

3. Leek.

leekThere are so many healthy vegetables making a comeback from ancient times that it was extremely difficult to choose the most important.

The leek comes in at number three on the list because it has all of the best elements of different healthy vegetables, including a great taste, loads of vitamins, high calcium levels, and even some potassium.

This vegetable has been so important throughout history that it was even mentioned in the Bible. Wales adopted the leek as one of their national emblems. King Cadwaladr once ordered his soldiers to wear the vegetable atop their helmets so others could recognize them in battle. It’s not used as battle armor in the modern world, but it’s slowly becoming a household name, much like the tomato or celery.

2. Olive Oil

There’s no denying the popularity of olive oil. Just about every kitchen in the country has a bottle of olive oil. It’s used in tons of dishes and has been around for thousands of years. It is the actual fat from olives and can be surprisingly difficult to obtain in some areas. This is an ancient ingredient so useful it’s been used in soaps, facial creams, and even as lamp fuel.

Olive oilIt’s so commonplace, yet many people are unaware it was being used as early as 6000 B.C. Like many other foods on this list the cultivation became popular in the Mediterranean region.

The early economy of Crete was built around the cultivation of olive trees primarily used in producing olive oil.

The oil soon became an important part of the economy throughout all of the Mediterranean as its many different uses were being discovered. Today, many modern recipes in all countries of the world call for some olive oil.

1. Grass Fed Cattle

It should come as no surprise that cattle is the number one ancient food on the list. It’s perhaps the most iconic source of meat in America and has been apart of global diets for thousands of years. However, a lot has changed over the centuries. Most cattle are grain-fed today, which produces a meat of different sorts.

Grass fed cattle is actually ore beneficial because the meat contains more omega-3 EPA. It’s actually been shown that cows that get to enjoy free grazing on a green pasture have less fat and higher levels of conugated linoleic acid(CLA). Overall, the meat is simply leaner, healthier, and tastier.

cowOnly recently are people beginning to realize there is a direct correlation between what the cow eats and how the meat comes out on our end.

This is causing the public to demand more grass fed cattle than years before. It’s a growing trend that we’ll likely see more of in the future.

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