Where superfoods come from

We have probably all heard the term "superfood," and have some idea of what these nutrient-rich foods are. As the quite self-explanatory world implies, these are foods that in one way or another are very good for you. From preventing diabetes or lowering cholesterol to giving your brain a boost of omega-3s, the list of possible health benefits from superfoods is long.

Nutritionist and author Elizabeth Somer explained to WebMD that even people who generally are healthy could benefit from adding a few simple superfoods to their diet. "I'd say that 50 percent to 70 percent of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension can all be impacted," Somer told WebMD.

The list of superfoods is long, and new food items with a "super" status keep appearing, as new studies and research prove their health benefits. Dark chocolate, for example, was long seen as just another fatty and sugary chocolate, but recent studies have ranked it among the beneficial foods, as cocoa contain high amounts of the good-for-you antioxidants known as flavonoids.

But while the different superfoods and their health benefits are often talked about, it is less known where most of these foods actually come from. The cancer-fighting broccoli might seem like a classic American vegetable (and nightmare of many children), but this green vegetable was actually not cultivated in the U.S. until the 1920s, and has its roots in Italy. And quinoa, the protein-packed super grain, can be traced back as far as 5,000 years, when it was a staple part of the Incan diet in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.

Curious to find out where more of our popular superfoods really come from (hint: it’s not the supermarket aisle)? Check out the origin of these health-boosting superfoods.

1. Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt


Yogurt is regarded as one of the oldest foods known to the human race, with the earliest form reportedly made in Mesopotamia estimated at 5000 B.C. The word yogurt comes from a Turkish word that means to curdle or to thicken, and yogurt has been a popular part of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine for a long time.

Several countries have since adopted different variations of yogurt, from thick and sour to creamy and smooth. Low-fat, plain yogurt has long been considered a real superfood, and within recent years, the protein-packed Greek yogurt has become very popular around the world. In Greece, yogurt has been (and still is) used in many traditional recipes, and is often eaten for breakfast with honey.

2. Quinoa


With a protein value equal to that of milk, and packed with nutrients and vitamins, quinoa is definitely a health-packed little grain. The first use of quinoa can be traced back to about 5,000 years ago in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, where it was a staple part of the Incan diet.

3. Blueberries


It is estimated that blueberries have been growing in North America for more than 13,000 years, and that Native Americans used blueberries, leaves, and roots for medicinal purposes. These "super berries" are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium.

4. Dark Chocolate


Dark chocolate (when eaten in small amounts) can actually be really good for you, as cocoa beans contain high amounts of antioxidant super-nutrients known as flavonoids. Chocolate and cocoa that is rich in flavonoids has been shown to have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory effects, which in theory could lower the risk of heart disease.

The history of chocolate goes back about 3,000 years, when people in Central America made seeds from the cacao tree into a drink known as xocolatl or "bitter water." After the Spanish conquest, cocoa beans were brought back to Europe, and after a long time of purely using chocolate in a liquid format, the first actual solid chocolate was created in Italy in the late 18th century.

Check out the history of more superfoods.

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