The Craziest Diet Trends from Ancient History

The Ancient Aztecs Regularly Made Hot Chocolate from Cacao Beans The ancient Aztecs of Mexico and Central America were known for their love of chocolate, which… Alexander Gabriel - April 26, 2023

Ancient diet trends were often bizarre and sometimes even dangerous. Many ancient cultures had their own unique ideas about what constituted a healthy diet, with some diets based on mystical or spiritual beliefs rather than scientific evidence. We should always approach nutrition with caution and skepticism, and seek out evidence-based advice from qualified professionals.

While some of these ancient diet trends might have had some beneficial effects, some of them lacked a balanced approach to nutrition and could have had negative health consequences. Conversely, you may find that many of the eating habits of our ancestors were fairly similar to our own. Let’s take a look at some of the oddest and most fascinating diets and foods of our ancient ancestors.

Greek Flavours

The Wine & Egg Diet Of Ancient Greece

The Wine and Egg Diet was a popular diet trend in ancient Greece, where people believed that consuming a diet of wine and raw eggs would increase their strength and vitality. The Greeks saw the egg as a symbol of life and believed that it contained all of the necessary nutrients to sustain life. The wine was also believed to have health benefits and was often used as a medicinal remedy.

However, this diet trend has not stood the test of time and is not recommended by modern health professionals. Raw eggs can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, and excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to a range of health issues. But the ancient Greeks apparently were willing to take the risk (considering they didn’t understand bacteria…).


Ancient Africans Were Incredibly Resourceful in Their Diets

Ancient African diets varied greatly depending on the region and available resources, but there were a few unusual dietary practices that emerged over time. In some parts of Africa, there were diets that consisted mainly of milk and blood. This occurred particularly among pastoralist communities. The Maasai of East Africa, for example, drank a mixture of cow’s milk and blood as a staple part of their diet. Another unusual diet was the consumption of insects, such as termites and grasshoppers, which were often roasted or fried and eaten as a high-protein snack.

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A 40 A.D. Weight Loss Method Involved Cheese, Mustard, and Stones

Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek physician and pharmacologist who lived during the first century AD. He wrote extensively about the medicinal properties of plants and foods. One of the more unusual diets he described was a regimen of mustard, cheese, and rock. He claimed it could help in weight loss, relieve stomach problems and other digestive issues. This diet involved eating a mixture of grated cheese and ground mustard, followed by drinking a small amount of water mixed with crushed rocks.

While this might seem like an odd combination today, it was a testament to the ancient Greeks’ belief in the healing properties of food and natural remedies. Dioscorides’ work was highly influential in the development of herbal medicine and was widely studied for centuries after his death.

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The Breatharian Diet

The ancient Breatharian diet, also known as Inedia, is a diet that claims that humans can survive without food or water by solely relying on prana, or the life force. This diet has its origins in ancient Indian yoga practices. The idea behind the Breatharian diet is that by only consuming air and sunlight, one can achieve a higher state of consciousness and transcend the physical body.

However, the idea of a human surviving without food or water is not supported by scientific evidence. It is medically considered dangerous and potentially fatal. There have been cases of people attempting this diet and suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration, leading to serious health issues and even death.

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The Tapeworm Diet

The Tapeworm Diet is a bizarre and dangerous diet trend that dates back to ancient times. It was believed that by intentionally ingesting tapeworms, individuals could lose weight without making any significant changes to their diet or exercise routine. The idea was that the tapeworm would attach itself to the intestinal wall of the host and consume the food that the host ingested, thus reducing the calorie intake of the host.

Although it may sound like a modern urban legend, the use of tapeworms as a weight-loss aid can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was thought that the worms would cleanse the body and improve digestion. The practice continued throughout the Middle Ages and even into the early 20th century, with some people going as far as purchasing tapeworms from shady vendors to lose weight quickly. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that the medical community recognized the dangers of ingesting tapeworms, including infections, blockages, and even death.


The Ancient Aztecs Regularly Made Hot Chocolate from Cacao Beans

The ancient Aztecs of Mexico and Central America were known for their love of chocolate, which they got from cacao beans. They consumed it as a beverage, often mixing it with chili peppers, cornmeal, and other spices. Chocolate was considered a luxury food and was reserved for the elite. The Aztecs believed that chocolate had both nutritional and medicinal properties. It was also used in religious ceremonies and rituals.

The Aztecs would use chocolate as a form of currency, and it was often exchanged as a gift during important occasions. The Aztecs believed that chocolate was a sacred food, and it played an important role in their culture and traditions. Today, chocolate is enjoyed around the world and has become a symbol of love and luxury, but its origins can be traced back to the ancient Aztecs and their rich culinary heritage.

Wines of Greece

Ancient Greeks Would Water Down Their Wine to Make it Less Potent

The ancient Greeks were known for their love of wine, but they did not consume it straight. Instead, they often mixed water with wine to dilute it and make it less potent. This practice was known as krasis. It was considered an important part of social drinking. The Greeks believed that consuming undiluted wine was uncivilized and could lead to drunkenness and excess.

By mixing water with wine, they could control the alcohol content and enjoy the flavor and aroma of the wine without getting drunk. The ratio of water to wine varied depending on the occasion and the social status of the guests, with higher ratios of water used for more formal events. Today, the practice of diluting wine with water is still common in some parts of Greece and is considered a nod to the country’s rich cultural heritage.

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American Colonials Loved Sweet Treats

During colonial times in America, jumble cookies and pepper cake were popular treats that were enjoyed by both adults and children. Jumble cookies were made from a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, and spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. The dough was then rolled into small balls, twisted, and baked until golden brown. Pepper cake, on the other hand, was a spiced cake made with flour, molasses, eggs, and ginger, cinnamon, and allspice.

Both treats were easy to make and were often served during social gatherings and holiday celebrations. The popularity of these treats continued throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and recipes for jumble cookies and pepper cake can still be found in cookbooks today, serving as a reminder of the rich culinary heritage of early American settlers.

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Modern Diet Trends Try to Replicate Those of Our Paleolithic Ancestors

The Paleolithic diet, also known as the “caveman diet,” is based on the idea of consuming foods that were available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era. This diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, while excluding dairy, grains, processed foods, and refined sugars. The idea behind this diet is that our bodies are better adapted to consuming the foods that our ancestors ate, as they were not exposed to the same processed and artificial foods that are common in modern diets.

Advocates of the Paleolithic diet claim that it can lead to weight loss, improved digestion, and lower risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. While there is some evidence to support these claims, critics of the diet argue that it may be difficult to follow and that it may not provide all of the necessary nutrients for optimal health.


Pomegranates Were Well Loved by Ancient Persians

Pomegranates have been a popular fruit in Persian cuisine for thousands of years. In ancient Persia, the pomegranate was considered a symbol of fertility and was often used in art and literature to represent abundance and prosperity. Pomegranate juice was used as a natural dye for textiles, and the fruit was also believed to have medicinal properties, such as reducing fever and improving digestion.

Pomegranates were also a staple in Persian cooking, where they were used in a variety of dishes, including stews, salads, and desserts. Today, pomegranates are still an important part of Persian cuisine and are enjoyed both for their sweet, tart flavor and their many health benefits, including their high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Russia Beyond

Mongols Drank Horse Blood

The Mongols were nomadic people who relied heavily on their horses for transportation, food, and military power. In addition to using horse milk and meat as a source of sustenance, the Mongols also drank horse blood. This practice was especially common during times of scarcity when other food sources were limited. The blood was often mixed with milk and fermented to make a drink known as kumis.

Drinking horse blood was believed to provide a rich source of iron and other nutrients, which were important for maintaining good health in the harsh conditions of the Mongolian steppes. Today, the practice of drinking horse blood is still common in some parts of Mongolia and is considered an important part of the country’s culinary heritage. However, it is also controversial, with some animal rights activists opposing the practice.

Serious Eats

Incans Seriously Enjoyed Their Popcorn

We may think of popcorn as a modern-day staple, but that isn’t the case! Popcorn was a popular food among the Incas, who considered it a sacred food that was associated with both fertility and prosperity. The Incas would often offer popcorn to their gods during religious ceremonies. They believed that the sound of popping kernels represented the cracking open of the earth to allow for new growth.

Popcorn was also a staple food for the Inca people, who would roast the kernels over an open flame or grind them into flour to make a variety of dishes, including bread and porridge. The Incas even used popcorn as a form of currency, with the value of a bag of popcorn equivalent to that of a gold nugget.

The New Arab

Milk Had Many Important Uses in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians were known for their unique and diverse diet, which included a variety of foods ranging from grains and vegetables to meat and fish. One notable aspect of their diet was their use of milk as a dietary supplement. The ancient Egyptians believed that milk was a vital source of nutrition and used it in a variety of ways, including as a drink and as an ingredient in cooking.

The milk was often mixed with honey, spices, or fruit to create a sweet and nutritious beverage. The ancient Egyptians also believed that milk had healing properties and used it as a remedy for a variety of ailments, including digestive problems and burns. Today, the benefits of milk are still widely recognized, and it remains an important part of many people’s diets around the world.


Although Considered Japanese, Tempura May Have Originated in Portugal

Tempura is a popular Japanese dish consisting of battered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables. Its exact origin is unclear, but it is believed to have been introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. The Portuguese were one of the first Europeans to establish trading relationships with Japan, and they brought with them a variety of new ingredients, including batter-fried fish.

Over time, the Japanese adapted this technique to their own cuisine, using locally available ingredients such as shrimp, squid, and sweet potato. Today, tempura is a staple of Japanese cuisine and is enjoyed around the world. Its light and crispy texture, combined with the delicate flavors of the seafood or vegetables, make it a favorite among both locals and tourists alike.

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Romans Would Intentionally Overeat and Induce Vomiting

The ancient Romans were known for their elaborate banquets and feasts, which often featured exotic and lavish dishes. However, they also had some peculiar eating habits that may seem strange to modern audiences. For example, the Romans believed that overeating was a sign of wealth and power, and many would consume large quantities of food in a single sitting, often until they were physically ill.

They also had a habit of vomiting during meals, a practice known as “gorging and purging,” which was thought to allow them to eat even more food. Another unusual habit was the use of a feather to induce vomiting, which was seen as a way to make room for more food.

All About Gardening

Turmeric Has Been Used in India for Thousands of Years

Turmeric is a spice that has been used in Indian cuisine and medicine for thousands of years. It is a key ingredient in many popular Indian dishes, including curries, dals, and biryanis. Turmeric is known for its bright yellow color and earthy flavor. It is also used as a natural dye for clothing and textiles. Turmeric has also been used in traditional Indian medicine to treat a variety of ailments. These include inflammation, digestive issues, and skin problems.

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been studied extensively for its potential health benefits. Today, turmeric is a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Its rich history in Indian culture serves as a reminder of the important role that spices and herbs have played in human health and nutrition for centuries.

Greece Is

Pancakes Existed in Ancient Times

Tiganites were a popular dish in ancient Greece. They were made by mixing flour, milk, eggs, and honey, and then frying the mixture in olive oil until crispy and golden brown. Tiganites were often served with honey and sesame seeds. Just like today, they were a popular breakfast food. Pancakes were not only a delicious treat, but also had symbolic importance. They were often associated with the goddess Hestia, who was the goddess of the hearth and home. Pancakes were considered a sacred food, and were often offered to Hestia as a way of ensuring good luck and prosperity.


The Mayans Used a Natural Gum for Oral Health

Chicle is a natural gum harvested from the sapodilla tree and has a long history of use in various cultures. One of the most famous uses of chicle was by the ancient Mayans. They chewed it for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Mayans believed that chewing chicle could help alleviate hunger during long periods of work or travel. They believed it could also help freshen breath and clean teeth.

Consequently, the practice of chewing chicle was so widespread that it became a part of Mayan culture, and many other Mesoamerican societies also adopted the practice. Eventually, chicle was exported to Europe and North America, where it was used as a base for chewing gum. Chicle is still harvested in some parts of Central America.

Ark Wildlife

Bird’s Nest Soup was a Part of Ancient Chinese Cuisine

Bird’s nest soup is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine that has been enjoyed for centuries. The soup is made from the nests of swiftlets. Swiftlets are tiny birds that build their nests using strands of their own saliva. First, the nests are carefully harvested from caves and cliffs. They are then soaked and cleaned before being added to a flavorful broth. Bird’s nest soup is considered a luxury food item. It is highly prized for its unique texture and supposed health benefits. The soup is believed to have restorative properties, improving skin and respiratory health. Bird’s nest soup is often consumed by the wealthy and affluent.


Warriors of Sparta Feasted on Black Soup

Spartan black soup, also known as melas zomos, was a staple dish of the ancient Spartan diet. The soup was made with simple ingredients such as pork, vinegar, and blood. The black soup was named for its distinctive dark color. It was a favorite meal of the Spartan warriors, who believed it provided them with the strength and endurance needed for battle. The soup was also said to be used as a form of hazing for new Spartan soldiers, as it was considered an acquired taste. Despite its humble ingredients, Spartan black soup has become a legendary dish, representing the frugal and disciplined lifestyle of the Spartan people.

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The Pizza of the Sahara, Tabadirt

Tabadirt is a traditional Berber dish from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. It is a type of bread made from a mixture of flour, water, and salt. It is then shaped into a flat, circular loaf and baked on a hot griddle. Tabadirt is a staple food in Berber households and is often eaten with tagine or other stews. The bread has a dense texture and a slightly sour taste.

Tabadirt can be stored for several days without spoiling, making it a practical food for nomadic people. Tabadirt has cultural and symbolic significance in Berber culture, representing the importance of communal values and sharing. It is truly a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of the Berber people in adapting to their environment.


The Oldest Surviving Recipe is 4,000-Year-Old Babylonian Tuh’u

Tuhu was a popular dish in ancient Babylonian cuisine. It was made from soaked, cooked barley that was flavored with herbs and spices. The dish was often served with roasted meat or vegetables and was a staple food of the Babylonian people. Tuhu was a simple yet hearty meal that could be easily prepared and was suitable for all classes of society. It was also a common food offering in religious rituals. Tuhu was believed to be a symbol of life and nourishment. The recipe for Tuhu has been passed down through the ages. It remains a popular dish in modern-day Iraq, where it is often enjoyed with bread and fresh herbs.


Venetian Noble Luigi Cornaro Invented an “Immortality Diet”

Luigi Cornaro was a Venetian nobleman who lived in the 16th century and is famous for his unusual approach to dieting. He was known for his excessive lifestyle in his youth, but after experiencing a serious illness in his 40s, he turned to a strict diet regimen in order to maintain his health. Cornaro limited himself to just 12 ounces of solid food and 14 ounces of wine per day.

He believed this was the optimal amount for his body. Cornaro also followed a specific schedule for his meals and slept for only four hours each night. His methods were highly regarded at the time and became known as the “Cornaro diet.” Cornaro lived to the age of 98 and remained healthy throughout his long life. It is said he exaggerated his age to add legitimacy to his diet.

Sixth Zone

Talented Herbalist and Chinese Emperor Wrote a Book on Herbal Medicine

Shennong, also known as the “Divine Farmer,” was a legendary Chinese emperor who lived over 5,000 years ago and is credited with inventing agriculture and traditional Chinese medicine. He was said to have a unique diet, consisting of only herbs and plants. According to legend, Shennong would taste different herbs and plants to determine their medicinal properties, and would consume only those that were beneficial for his health. His diet was a reflection of his knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, and his belief in the healing power of nature. Furthermore, Shennong’s legacy lives on in traditional Chinese medicine, where his contributions to the field are still celebrated today.


Humoral Theory Was Used for Centuries to Create Specialized Diets

Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of Western medicine, developed the humoral theory in ancient Greece. According to this theory, the human body is composed of four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. These must be kept in balance in order to maintain good health. Each humor is associated with a different element and personality type. Blood is associated with air and a sanguine personality, phlegm with water and a phlegmatic personality, yellow bile with fire and a choleric personality, and black bile with earth and a melancholic personality.

Imbalances in these humors were thought to lead to disease, and treatment involved restoring balance through diet, exercise, and sometimes bloodletting. While the humoral theory may seem outdated by modern medical standards, it had a significant impact on the development of medicine and the understanding of the human body in ancient times.


The Roman Black Banquet Featured Jellyfish

The ancient Romans were known for their extravagant feasts, and one of the most unusual was the infamous “black banquet” hosted by Emperor Vitellius in the 1st century AD. This banquet was characterized by its strange and exotic dishes, including jellyfish, roast ostrich, and flamingo tongue. The color black was also a dominant theme, with many dishes being colored with squid ink or blackened with spices. The banquet was seen as a sign of excess and decadence, and was heavily criticized by the Roman elite. Despite this, it became a symbol of the extravagance and opulence of the Roman Empire.


Fermented Foods Were an Integral Part of Ancient Korean Diets

The Korean diet also included a variety of fermented foods, such as kimchi, which is made from cabbage and spicy chili peppers. Other fermented dishes included soybean paste, soy sauce, and rice wine. Fermented foods have been shown to have numerous health benefits. They are rich in beneficial bacteria and can improve digestion, boost the immune system, and even reduce the risk of certain diseases. The Korean diet was also influenced by Confucianism, which emphasized the importance of moderation and balance in all aspects of life, including diet. The Korean diet was based on the principles of yin and yang. This principle focused on balancing the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.