Ancient Humans Snacked on Purple Nutsedge to Keep Teeth Clean

How did our ancient ancestors keep their teeth clean? According to recent research, they would eat a weed called purple nutsedge which also helped to keep teeth clean. Would you eat it? Read on to learn more, and thanks for visiting Saddle Rock Pediatric Dentistry of Aurora, CO. 

Purple Graze: Ancient skeletons reveal humans once snacked on purple nutsedge to keep teeth clean.

Does the purple nutsedge look appetizing?

We don’t think so either. In fact, it is widely considered by modern farmers to be one of the most hated weeds in existence. Known for its resilience, its tuberous and deep roots can make it difficult to fully pull from the soil.

However, researchers studying an ancient site in Sudan have discovered that this weed held quite a different status with African ancestors over 8,700 years ago:

According to a study by researchers at Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, the purple nutsedge, or Cyperus rotundus, not only provided vital nourishment such as amino acids, but served an additional purpose: teeth cleaner.

Fourteen skeletons dating to approximately 6,700 B.C. were examined at Al Khiday – an archeological site near the Nile River. Each skeleton was found to have hardened starch granules on its teeth. These granules shared a chemical composition with nutsedge. Purple nutsedge, in high concentrations, can inhibit one type of bacteria that promotes tooth decay.

Karen Hardy, lead researcher for the study and professor of archeology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, claimed this may explain why fewer cavities were found in Al Khiday compared to an archeological site to the north.

Today, however, nutsedge is considered little more than a nuisance. “It’s a veggie, weedy thing,” says Hardy. “It’s very prolific. That’s why it’s such a problem for farmers today.”

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