An Old Staple

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Seaweed is usually associated with East Asian cuisines, but the aquatic plants were also a staple for early Europeans thousands of years ago, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

In a new study, archaeologists and scientists analyzed the fossilized dental plaque from the remains of 74 humans unearthed at 28 European sites. The studied samples date back more than 8,000 years.

The researchers found chemical biomarkers of a variety of seaweeds – red, brown and green – and other aquatic plants in 26 samples. They added that these plants were being consumed as early as the Mesolithic period, through the Neolithic and into the early Middle Ages.

The findings challenge a long-held assumption that the introduction of agricultural practices during the Neolithic meant that early humans stopped eating aquatic vegetation.

The team noted that the discovery also suggests that early humans probably knew about the benefits of seaweed, which nowadays is considered a “superfood.”

They hope that their research can encourage more people to start adding seaweed and other aquatic plants into their diets.

Although not necessarily appetizing to many at first glance, seaweed offers a series of health benefits as it contains polysaccharides that promote gut health and serves as a prebiotic, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

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