Whether you’re a fantastic cook, or simply just someone who enjoys eating good food, you know how the right combination of ingredients can take a dish from ho hum to fantastic. But I bet you didn’t know that the right mix of ingredients can also help you absorb more of the good-for-nutrients in that meal.
Following are 5 simple food combos that can help you get more nutrition out of every meal.
1. Fat with your vegetables:
Veggies and fat make a perfect pair. Combine your raw or lightly cooked vegetables with a healthy fat, and you will absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Pick vegetables high in these vitamins, for an even bigger boost, such as…
- Vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach
- Vitamin D: mushrooms
- Vitamin E: Asparagus, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens
- Vitamin K: spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens and broccoli
Then combine with a good fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts or butter.
2. Eggs with your salad:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it helps to protect your cells from free radicals that are produced when your body converts the food you eat into energy.
New research has revealed tossing some eggs into your salad can send your vitamin E absorption skyrocketing. When researchers added three whole eggs to volunteer’s salads, the amount of vitamin E they absorbed from the meal was a stunning 4 to 7 fold higher, than salads eaten without the eggs.1
Pack your salad with vitamin E rich foods such as spinach, sunflower seeds, broccoli, olives and avocado and you’ll end up absorbing even more of this valuable vitamin.
3. Vitamin C with your beans:
You probably already know that meat is a good source of iron. But you might not realize some veggies and legumes are good sources of iron too.
Unfortunately our bodies don’t absorb plant-based iron… known as nonheme iron… as easily. That’s where a little kitchen magic can save the day. When you pair a source of nonheme iron, such as beans, with vitamin C you can send your absorption level soaring up to 6 times.
Choose a food that contains nonheme iron such as legumes (beans, lentils, peas), spinach, kale, nuts, seeds, eggs or dried fruit. Then pair it with a food rich in vitamin C such as…
- a squeeze of lemon or orange juice
- red or green bell peppers
- chili peppers
For example, you might make a spinach salad, with strawberry slices, sunflower seeds, eggs and a lemon and orange vinaigrette dressing. Or a side dish of spicy beans and bell peppers seasoned with chili peppers.
4. Onions with your steak:
Iron is an essential mineral. Without enough iron your red blood cells can’t effectively transport oxygen to your cells and tissues. As a result you may feel exhausted, and your health begins to suffer. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States.
Your body requires zinc for proper growth and maintenance. And this important trace mineral boosts your immune system helping you to fight off colds and infections. Zinc may help with wound healing, memory and blood sugar control. And if you’re 60 or over you have a much higher chance of being zinc deficient.
Sulfur binds with iron and zinc so to help your body absorb more of these important minerals, pair foods with iron or zinc with a sulfur rich food.
Pick a food that has a good amount of heme iron such as red meat, liver, pork, seafood (clams, mussels and oysters) or poultry such as turkey, chicken or duck.
Or choose one with zinc such as oysters, beef or turkey. Then serve it up with a sulfur-rich food such as onions, garlic or egg yolks.
5. Kale with your catfish:
In order to absorb calcium your body also needs vitamin D. Pair your vitamin-D-rich foods such as catfish, herring, oysters and canned salmon with foods that contain calcium such as kale, bok choy, almonds, sardines or sesame seeds.
When you’re planning your next menu be sure to keep these food combos in mind to get the most nutrition bang for your food buck.