If you know how to combine foods that enhance each other, you can take better advantage of their nutrients and health benefits. These combinations are easy to remember and to put into practice.
Surely you know that to better assimilate turmeric, the ideal is to combine it with black pepper or some fat. Or that the vitamin C of fruits and red pepper helps you fight anemia when you accompany lentils with these foods, as it favors the absorption of iron. But did you know that onion and garlic help you better assimilate the zinc from whole grains?
Some foods increase their health effects in the body when combined with others and are more effective than when taken separately. This happens, for example, when the nutrients of one increase the bioavailability of the nutrients of the other, making them easier to assimilate. This is important, because one thing is the amount of a nutrient that a food has and another is the amount that we manage to take advantage of.
In a previous article we already talked about how adding foods with healthy fats to salads , such as avocado, nuts or tahini, enhances the assimilation of various vitamins and antioxidant compounds present in many green leaves or tomatoes. Knowing these synergies between foods allows us to take better advantage of their nutrients or their protective properties.
These four food combinations that are very easy to incorporate into your menus are based on this multiplier effect of nutrients and protective properties:
Rice with legumes, tomato and onion: more minerals
The combination of brown rice with a legume is a classic to obtain complete proteins in the same meal. Here the proposal is to use this combination in salad adding a raw tomato per serving and a good mince of garlic and onion.
Both rice and legumes are a good source of minerals. However, not all are absorbed equally well. According to a study by the University of Sao Paolo, by adding raw tomato, garlic and onion to this combination, the dish becomes much more valuable for its contribution of zinc and iron. The sulfur compounds in garlic and onion, derived from the amino acid cysteine, improve the assimilation of zinc. In turn, they enhance the effect of tomato vitamin C, which facilitates the absorption of iron.
The zinc is an essential mineral antioxidant for the proper functioning of the immune system. It is important that the rice is brown, as the minerals in this cereal are lost when the bran is removed to obtain white rice.
Kiwi oat flakes: healthy arteries
We have chosen kiwi , because it is one of the fruits richest in vitamin C, but in fact any fruit rich in vitamin C is a good option to add to your oatmeal porridge : strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. Vitamin C multiplies the effects protectors of avenanthramides and other phenols in oats on the arteries of the body. How?
Avenanthramides and other phenolic compounds present in oats reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, associated with an increased cardiovascular risk. When combined with vitamin C, the time during which they exert this protection of LDL cholesterol against free radicals increases considerably, and more the higher the dose of vitamin C.
Kiwi, plus vitamin C, gives you a good dose of soluble fiber, folic acid and vitamin E.
Green tea with black pepper: greater antioxidant power
You have probably heard that adding a little lemon to green tea enhances its antioxidant effect. This is because the citric acid in lemon improves the assimilation of polyphenols from other foods, such as epigallocatechin gallate that makes green tea so healthy.
Well, another way to promote the action of this powerful antioxidant in green tea, which is attributed a protective effect against cancer, is by adding a little black pepper to the tea. The pipeline in black pepper slows the passage of epigallocatechin gallate through the intestine, giving more time for the body to assimilate it.
You can find versions of the classic chai masala made with green tea and spices, including pepper. Another delicious way to enjoy a spicy green tea is with this tea spaced with cinnamon, pepper and cardamom.
Broccoli with tomato: better for the prostate
This is another powerful combination in which the antioxidant compounds from two different foods, when added together, exert an even greater protective effect than when consumed separately.
According to a study from the University of Illinois, the anticancer compounds in both foods consumed together have an added protective effect against prostate cancer.
Researchers attribute this to the fact that the anticancer compounds in one food and another act in different ways, which complement each other. Now, just like broccoli, the less done the better, with the tomato the effect is enhanced if it is cooked.