• Haley Peck

Food Synergy: Get More Nutrition by Pairing Your Foods!

The power of food can be quite amazing. Many people don’t know that certain foods together can actually increase the absorption of nutrients consumed. We’re not talking peanut butter and jelly, or chicken and waffles. We’re talking about Food Synergy, also known as the relationship between nutrients and phytochemicals in certain foods. According to Elaine Magee, R.D. M.P.H., and author of the book Food Synergy, “By eating foods that have a synergistic effect, you can absorb more nutrients, gain control of your appetite, and lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and weight-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes.” It’s important to remember that although some nutrients improve the absorption of others, some have the ability to hinder absorption all together as well. If you are curious as to how you can get the most vitamins and nutrients out of your food, read on!

Eggs + Raw Vegetables =

Upgrade the way your eat your eggs. A recent study has found that eating cooked eggs with raw vegetables can increase the carotenoid absorption (the nutrient-rich pigment that give vegetables their color). Dietary carotenoids include beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, which decrease the risk of cancer and chronic disease. If you are not a fan of eating the egg yolks, this may not be a good combination for you. Wayne Campbell, PhD, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University says that eating just the egg whites won’t work because it’s simply all about the fats in the yolk. Eggs and carrots are an incredible power couple because carrots are extremely high in carotenoids.

Bananas + Yogurt =

A fiber found in bananas, called inulin, works to balance the levels of good bacteria in your digestive system. Studies have found that inulin boosts the growth of healthy bacteria in yogurt. When you combine inulin with probiotics (good bacteria) found in yogurt, the level of calcium in your body also increases. This is especially good for those who are prone to stomach issues. According to Body Ecology, this combination works to help regulate digestion and boost immunity.

Turmeric + Black Pepper =

For centuries, turmeric has been known for it’s anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and tumor-fighting properties due to its active ingredient curcumin. The key ingredient of black pepper, piperine, enhances the absorption of the curcumin in turmeric, which boosts its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial agents. According to Dr. Michael Greger, even just a quarter of a teaspoon of black pepper can cause curcumin levels to skyrocket. One of the tastiest ways to combine these ingredients is in a homemade curry dish.

Garlic + Fish =

Not only does garlic make your fish more flavorful, but both garlic and fish are packed with omega-3 fatty oils. Garlic is a huge immunity booster that contains a heaping serving of antioxidants. When combined with fish, the cholesterol-reducing properties in both the fish oils and garlic are known to reduce your risk in heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Elaine Magee, R.D. M.P.H. says that fish and garlic together have more power to improve blood chemistry than they do alone.

Green Tea + Lemon =

Why not get the most out of your cup of tea? Green tea is known for its amazing health benefits including a high antioxidant content and weight loss benefits. The main health benefits of green tea come from antioxidants called Catechins, which our bodies do not absorb very well. A Purdue University study found that the vitamin C in lemons helps the body absorb up to 13 times the amount of healthy catechins than without the added lemon juice. Boosting the bioavailability of these antioxidants has been linked to improved heart and brain health, as well as lowered cancer risks.

Red Meat + Rosemary =

Those who love red meat and eat it frequently are more prone to carcinogens and cancer-causing agents (HCA’s) that form when it is cooked at very high temperatures (grilling). Research has found that certain phenolic compounds and antioxidants in the rosemary spice can block the carcinogenic compounds in red meat before they can form. This when cooked at temperatures above 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Drew Ramsey, M.D of Columbia University says, "People have a lot of concerns about eating grilled meat. This combination is one way that I like to use food synergy to increase the health of a dish."

Red Wine + Almonds =

Has anyone ever told you that red wine is good for you? Well it’s nothing but true. Red wine contains an active antioxidant called resveratrol, which improves heart health and blood vessel lining. Resveratrol becomes increasingly beneficial to the body when consumed with vitamin E (almonds). The American Journal of Enology and Viticulture compared several types of wine from around the world and found that pinot noir wines had the highest resveratrol levels. You might want to keep this in mind next time you reach for a glass of wine!

Avocado + Tomatoes =

The best part about tomatoes is their pigment-rich antioxidant, lycopene, which is known to reduce cancer risks and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, our bodies do not willingly absorb this important carotenoid on its own unless it is delivered with a little bit of fat. This is where avocados come in to play. The fat content in avocados drastically improves the absorption of carotenoids tomatoes. This is why many nutritionists and health experts actually advise people to stay away from fat-free salad dressings, but to take advantage of foods that contain naturally saturated fats, like avocados. There are tons of delicious avocado-based salad dressings that are worth a try!

These food combinations only knock off a few on the list. There are TONS of food synergy pairings that are beneficial to everyone whether you are deficient in certain vitamins/minerals, suffer from chronic disease, healing from an illness or even preventing illness.


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