Ancient superfoods

Ancient superfoods:

Every day foods that carry ancient nutritional value

Wild ancient precursors of our modern corn are about 30 percent protein and 2 percent sugar. Some of the modern corn varieties contain as much as 40 percent sugar. As far as your blood sugar is concerned you might as well binge Ben and Jerry’s or feast on Fernandes. There are common foods that still contain high levels of (bio) nutrients. How to spot them?

Click here to see what Dutch comedian Ronald Goedemondt says about the soda Fernandes

Plant pedigree
Since humans invented farming we have selected fruits and veggies that are high in starch and sugar and low in minerals, fibers, bio nutrients and vitamins. Our ancient wild varieties contained much less sugar and much more nutritional, medicinal properties. Huge strawberries, no flavor sensation... After breeding the medicinal value out of our food, with the emergence of megafarms we also started to favor yield over flavor.

Quick yield asks for quick growth,  fertilizer and pesticides. When grown at its normal pace in rich soil there is a significant increase in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.

Plant’s natural sunscreen
Besides vitamins and minerals, plant based foods contain bio (or phyto) nutrients are nature's natural defense. They are natural chemicals produced by plants that keep plants healthy, protecting them from insects and the sun. They can be found in i.a. fruits & vegetables. Bio nutrients work in synergy with other essential nutrients to promote good health in humans.

Plant panacea
Wild tomatoes can carry as much as fifteen times the amount of bio nutrients. One form of bio nutrients are known under the modern buzzword anti-oxidants. When consumed they protect us  against i.a. cancer, inflammation of our artery linings, obesity, slow down visible signs of aging.

How to supersize your nutrient intake:

  • Ancient super veggies: Some varieties of foods have retained relative high amounts of (bio) nutrients compared to their ancient heirlooms. Asparagus, broccoli, green peppers, artichoke, shallots and avocado are a couple that spring out.
  • Ancient super fruits: Blue berries, black berries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries preferably organic, usually most contaminated, seasonal, locally grown.
    The most bio nutritious greens in the supermarket are not green but purple, red or reddish brown. The most nutritious greens are dark green in color loosleave uv rays, suncreen no name for varietys not by name but by looks.
  • Fresh herbs such as coriander, fresh ginger, basil, ginger and fresh turmeric etc. contain a lot of anti-oxidants and are super good for a healthy digestion. You can put some finely chopped fresh turmeric (look out for your clothes!) I’s delicious when you blend it together with freshly squeezed orange juice. You can additionally add some fresh ginger. You’ve created an anti-oxidant bomb ;-) Fresh turmeric and ginger can be bought at most health food stores.

  • Apples: The flesh of old apple cultivars has a higher content of antioxidant compounds and vitamin C, compared to new apple cultivars. For this reason, it is recommended to include preferably old apple cultivars, such as Jonathan, Ontario and Oldenburger in the daily diet. From the popular apples these spring out: Breaburn, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious. Additionally, it is advisable to consume the apple with peel, due to its higher antioxidant content (wash well to rinse herbicides of).*1
  • Eat the whole fruit fruit. Fiber and phenolic compounds have great synergy effects, but if you start to meddle with the ratio’s it also has an effect on the synergy of the fruit and with that on how it effects our body’s and blood sugar levels.
  • If you do choose the juice, choose the one with it´s fibers. Cloudy apple juice, has up to four times more bio nutrients then clear. Cloudy apple juice, it has up to four times more bio nutrients than clear apple juice.
  • Carrot care: Purple and yellow carrots are the most nutritious. Best served with some olive oil as the healthy beta-carotenes are fat soluble. Whole cooked vs. cut before cooking to store significantly more vitamins.


  • Onions blues:The stronger the more nutritional. If you find yourself crying for no reason, you know you’ve made a nutritionally sound choice.
  • Tomato paste: Canned tomato paste has the highest concentration of the anti-oxidant lycopene of all the tomatoes and tomato products in the store.
  • Leek loss: The most vitamins are stored in the green parts that we tend to chuck out, don’t.
  • in the supermarket are not light green but dark green, purple, red or reddish brown. Think of arugula, oak leave, Lollo Rosso and red loose leave lettuce like red Romaine etc.
  • Loosen up lettuce: Loose leave lettuce has by far the most nutrients out of the lettuces. Remember the sunscreen? Due to their loose leave arrangement they are vulnerable to decay by sunlight. Nature’s smart answer? Botanical sunscreen. By producing more bio-nutrients the lettuce protects which makes them healthier for us:).  Look for fresh whole heads, crisp leaves without signs of wilting.
  • Beat it: Beats with their leaves still on are the freshest (most nutrients). The leaves are actually the most nutritious parts and where already consumed by our ancient forefathers! Feature them in your salads;)
  • Precut food loses much of its nutritional value during processing.
  • Go wild: wild arugula, wild spinach etc. have move nutrients.


In a nutshell:

  • Eat a varied, fresh, unprocessed, colorful diet. Tomatoes, beets Try to eat a different vegetable (preferably several) every day and alternate with fruit. This way you ensure that you get all the important nutrients that your body needs. By alternating, you will get a lot of healthy substances. The brighter the color, the more anti-oxidants (just think of turmeric).
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. To get the freshest produce, ask your grocer what is in season or buy food from your local farmers market. As much nutritional value gets lost when travelling and picked unripe
  • Organic foods also provide greater levels of a number of important antioxidant phytochemicals, which is logical as the pesticide kills all bugs which means the plant is not triggered to defend itself from hungry snails by producing these medicinal phyto chemicals.*2

For the fact lovers amongst us:

In one two month study amongst 46 men found that our modern day world’s top-selling Golden Delicious was too low in bio nutrients to lower high cholesterol and triglycerides in overweight men. 23 Men were placed in the control group and did not change their diet. The 23 other men added a Golden delicious daily. To the researchers surprise the last group had higher levels of both indicators after the study then before. After much confusion it turned out that the modern day Golden Delicious was too low in bio nutrients to lower cholesterol and so high in sugar that it raised their triglycerides. *3

*1    Polyphenolic Compounds Analysis of Old and New Apple Cultivars and Contribution of Polyphenolic Profile to the In Vitro Antioxidant Capacity. Josephine Kschonsek, Theresa Wolfram, Annette Stöckl, and Volker Böhm. Scientific article

*2    Baranski M, et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: A systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014;112:794. Scientific article

*3    Effects of Apple Consumption on Lipid Profile of Hyperlipidemic and Overweight Men. Mohammad Reza Vafa,1 Elham Haghighatjoo,2 Farzad Shidfar, PhD, MSPH,2 Shirin Afshari,2 Mahmood Reza Gohari,3 and Amir Ziaee4. Scientific article

    Over Laura Hoekstra

    Laura Hoekstra is a health educator focusing on the intersections of food, health and climate. With her background in Natural Medicine Laura looks at health (people and planet) through a holistic lens. She is a Certified Nutritionist and Naturopath and an advocate for Integrative, Personalized Medicine.


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