In our modern world, it's easy to forget about the nutritional powerhouse foods that our ancestors relied on for good health. These so-called "lost superfoods" are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost your health in a variety of ways. Here are five lost superfoods that you should definitely try to add to your diet.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds were a staple of the Aztec and Mayan diets, and for good reason. These tiny seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can add chia seeds to just about anything—smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and even baked goods. Or you can simply sprinkle them on top of salads or other dishes for a little extra crunch.
2. Sprouted Grains
Grains like quinoa, wheat, and barley have been sprouted for centuries as a way to increase their nutrient levels. When grains are sprouted, they release enzymes that make vitamins and minerals more bioavailable. Sprouted grains are also a good source of fiber and protein. You can find sprouted grain bread and other products at most health food stores these days.
3. Goji Berries
Goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, but they only recently started gaining popularity in the West. These little red berries are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, iron, and beta-carotene. You can eat them whole as a snack or add them to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt. You can also find them dried, frozen, or candied in many stores nowadays.
4. Maca Powder
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru that has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties. It's high in vitamins B6 and C, as well as magnesium and iron. Maca powder has a nutty flavor that goes well in smoothies or baking recipes. You can usually find it in the supplement aisle of your local health food store or online.
5. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is made up of flower pollen that bees collect from plants and mix with enzymes from their own bodies. It's a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and K—not to mention amino acids and minerals like zinc and selenium. Bee pollen is often used as a natural energy booster or immune system enhancer. You can find it in capsules at most health food stores or add it to smoothies or yogurt for a nutrient boost.
Once a staple of the Inca diet, quinoa was all but forgotten when the Spanish conquest decimated the Inca empire in the 16th century. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, and is also high in fiber and antioxidants. It's also gluten-free, making it a great option for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. To bring quinoa back into your life, try substituting it for rice or pasta in your favorite dishes.
Kale was a favored leafy green by ancient Greeks and Romans, who believed it had medicinal properties. It fell out of favor in the Middle Ages but made a comeback in the last few years thanks to its nutrient-dense profile—kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as magnesium, calcium, and iron. To get your kale fix, try massaging some kale with olive oil and vinegar and eating it raw as a salad. Or, for a more hearty dish, sauté kale with garlic and onions and serve it over quinoa or rice.
Turmeric was used as a spice in ancient India and China and was thought to have healing properties. Modern science has backed up these claims—turmeric has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. It's also high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. To incorporate turmeric into your diet, try adding it to soups or stews for flavor or mix it into smoothies or juices for a nutritional boost. You can also find turmeric supplements at most health food stores.
Don't get so caught up in trying the latest superfood trend that you forget about the lost superfoods of history! These forgotten foods were once considered essential for good health but have since fallen out of favor. However, thanks to their nutrient-rich profiles, they're making a comeback. So next time you're at the grocery store, pick up some quinoa, kale, and turmeric and give them a try! Your body will thank you for it.
If you are curious about more superfood supplements, check out these articles!
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