Perhaps, “eat your greens” is that one thing that we’ve all heard from our parents, doctors and nutritionists since childhood. As a kid, I always hated eating the greens, but now I understand how important it is to our overall health. Leafy greens come loaded with several essential nutrients that boast many health benefits. Over the years, I’ve also realised how easy it is to cook certain green leafy veggies, while they are also super versatile. 

I am not that great a cook, but preparing palak paneer to perfection in the very first go is something to be proud of. In fact, our menu at home is often packed with a lot of green leafy veggies. But have you ever wondered where did cooking these green leafy veggies originate from? A team of archaeologists and archaeo-botanists from Germany actually thought of it and came out with an answer after an extensive study. 

The team of researchers from Germany’s Goethe University and the University of Bristol in the UK unearthed that green leafy veggies were first cooked over 3,000 years ago. According to the study published in the journal, titled ‘Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences’, leafy greens were first cooked in West Africa some 3,500 years ago.

The research spanned across 450 prehistoric pots that were examined. Out of these, 66 pots had traces of lipids - organic compounds that are insoluble in water. And over a third of the 66 lipid profiles “displayed very distinctive and complex distributions”, indicating that plants were processed before consumption. 

Conducted for over 12 years, this study was part of an extensive research that focused on the Nok Culture of Central Nigeria, “which is particularly known for its large terracotta figures and early iron production in West Africa in the first millennium BC”, the report states. It also focused on the social context in which the sculptures were created – including their eating habits. 

The researchers found that the Nok community grew pearl millet, yam and used different species of plants in their diet. Explaining the process, archaeobotanist Dr Alexa Hohn, from Goethe University, said, “The visible and invisible remains of food preparation in the archaeological sediment and the pottery give us a much more complete picture of past eating habits. This new evidence suggests a significant time depth in West African cuisine.”  

This is definitely an important insight that gives us an idea how green leafy veggies have influenced the diet and eating habits of our ancestors. Excited much? Maybe, you can prepare a bunch of green leafy vegetables at home and appreciate it more. Here are a few recipes:

1. Sauteed Spinach With Garlic Lemon


2. Spinach Cheddar Microwave Quiche Mug


3. Apple Dijon Kale Salad