Given that since the dawn of humanity people have eaten food, it is astonishing how little people have understood how nutrition works in the body until relatively recently.

To emphasise just how recent much of our knowledge of nutrition is, vitamin C was first isolated in a laboratory in 1932, meaning that we have known about one of the most important vitamins for human health for less than a century.

Because of how relatively new a field nutritional science is, our knowledge of what makes food healthy has changed rapidly as well, with superfood suppliers looking at ancient and modern diets from around the world to see what has kept people healthy and why.

Interestingly, this has also led to some foods that were previously seen as incredibly unhealthy being reconsidered as superfoods due to being packed with nutritional benefits.

Here are some foods that were once considered controversial but are now an essential part of many diets.

Chocolate

In a world before we had a strong understanding of nutrition, chocolate was seen as an addictive snack that was bad for teeth and health, and whilst that is the case for milk chocolate bars, eggs and many hot chocolate mixes, raw chocolate and high-cocoa dark chocolate is highly nutritious.

It contains a lot of iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, as well as being loaded with fibre, and contains trace amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

It is also filled with antioxidants such as flavanols, catechins and polyphenols, to the point that one study found it had higher antioxidant properties than even acai berries and blueberries.

Coffee

Coffee, perhaps more than any other food or drink we consume, has gone through several cycles of controversy, from being seen as a ‘wonder drink to being demonised as a result of its high caffeine content to returning to superfood status.

Much like chocolate, part of this is caused by changes in nutritional knowledge, and the more we learn about antioxidants and their importance in the body, the more popular coffee has become again as a superfood.

It should be pointed out that, much like how milk chocolate is bad but raw cocoa is better, much of the

stigma associated with coffee is likely a result of the milk, cream and sugar added to it, and black coffee provides a much stronger benefit.

Seaweed

A staple part of South-East Asian cuisine, seaweed is a food that has primarily courted controversy for its salt content, before it was really understood.

Being a product of the sea, seaweed contains high amounts of sodium compared to other greens and whilst this was seen as an issue, better knowledge of its mineral content has caused it to be seen as far more of a superfood.

It is rich in calcium, iodine, protein and fibre, as well as containing Vitamin B12, Zinc and Iron. The iodine content, in particular, makes it beneficial for thyroid health, although this does mean that whilst it is beneficial for thyroid health, in some cases, it should be eaten sparingly.

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