The beneficial properties of our foods are often poorly understood, especially when the feed seems banal, as it can for example be the case for apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, tea … Yet some foods accessible to all deserving of particular interest as they focus elements beneficial to our health.
It says everything and its opposite on the food. This chapter is based solely on documented facts: food composition affected properties identified by scientific studies. In particular, in order to expunge any a priori cultural, always very strong when it comes to food.
Many foods beneficial to our health have been introduced in Europe in recent centuries. One suspects that part of the improvement in life expectancy observed since then is due to their widespread use:
Cocoa was used by the U.S. to Central America and was imported by the Spanish in Europe. It was initially considered a medicinal plant, then became general after conditioning to make chocolate.
Ginger comes from India, and began to be imported into Europe by Greek. The beans come from America, where they were originally cultivated by the Mayas and Aztecs. The Italians did not discover the possibility to eat before maturity as beans that eighteenth century.
Orange is known in Europe long ago, but was considered a valuable commodity to the beginning of the century. Only the spread of international trade allows us to enjoy all year. The sweet potato is a vegetable exotic, we can easily find in Europe only recently. The saltwater fish are widely available since the cold chain has been established, that is to say since the fifties. Previously, the fish could be consumed as dried, smoked, or salted, except those who lived by the sea.
Almonds are widely consumed in the Middle East and North Africa, but are readily available in Europe only recently Soy comes from China, and although known for a very long time in Europe, its use is not widespread as in recent decades.
Tea comes from China and was introduced into Europe by Hollanders merchants at Seventeenth Century. Quickly adopted by the English, it is spreading in France in recent decades. The tomato comes from the new world. Used by the Aztecs, it was imported into Europe by the Spaniards, and adopted especially around the Mediterranean.
The seaweed, shiitake come from Japan, and they are found routinely in recent years in France.
What the diversity of foods we learned is that a varied diet is clearly beneficial to our health and that “globalization” of food is a positive phenomenon. The gradual introduction in the history of food that we were strangers do not hunt the food we consumed earlier, but helps us to vary our diet, by gradually filling the gaps. This is real progress, the effect is undeniable, although it is difficult to quantify.
So enjoy the good side of globalization that are so often critical and that we can at least take advantage of so many good things from all continents.