Gone are the times when humans ate just to survive. Today, we’re aware of the significant influence diet has on our state of health. Of course, this a complex concept, so each and everyone of us has a personal view on the matter based on experience and accumulated information.
Recent studies in this field coined the concept of Food Synergy. Synergy is the working together of two things that produce a result greater than the sum of their individual effects. Combining certain foods can increase their nutritional value, and help the body absorb and utilize all of their benefits more effectively – this is what we call Food Synergy.
Here’s a list of great food combos to have in mind when you prepare your next meal or when you don’t know what to order:
Tomatoes and avocado – Cancer prevention
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and A, but more important, they are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes and certain other fruits and veggies their color.
Increased consumption of lycopene plays an important role in cancer prevention (especially prostate cancer), as it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and it is also has anti-inflammatory properties. Another fact you should know is lycopene is a fat soluble nutrient, in other words, it needs to be combined with fat in order to be absorbed properly.
Thus, the combination between tomatoes and avocado offers the perfect nutrient synergy. Avocado is rich in healthy fats and it helps the body absorb more lycopene. So be sure to use tomatoes in your guacamole salsa next time, or use these two superfoods to get creative with your salad.
Broccoli and tomatoes – Anti-cancer superpower
We’ve already discussed the nutritional benefits of tomatoes. Broccoli is another vegetable with well known effects in fighting cancer due one of the compounds it contains, called sulforaphane. It is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, phosphorus and phyto-nutrients. But as effective as the vegetables are by themselves, one study published in the Journal of Cancer Research has actually found that when used together, they become a virtual anti-cancer superpower.
However, the scientists are not sure how the synergy between the beneficial compounds found in tomatoes and broccoli works exactly. Until they do find out, we’ll just have to keep eating this amazing food pair, because it does work!
Almonds and yogurt – Strengthen bones
There are several fat-soluble nutrients, including some essential vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A which are activated and absorbed when eaten with healthy fats.
Carrots, broccoli and peas are full of vitamin A and could be combined with olive oil, for example. Yogurt , milk, fish, orange juice are a rich source of vitamin D, which helps repair and strengthen your bones. Almonds contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids(or healthy fats, as we call them). That’s why this combination is a good choice for breakfast or as a healthy snack during the day.
Bananas and yogurt – Muscle repair
Bananas and yogurt are some of the healthiest foods to include in your diet. Each of them offer a wide variety of nutrients essential for your body. Bananas are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamins C and B6. Yogurt offers significant amounts of calcium, zinc, phosphorus and protein. A banana-yogurt smoothie is the perfect post workout snack as it increases the absorption of muscle-repairing glucose and amino acids. After intense physical activity, this combination can help your muscles recover faster.
Oatmeal and orange juice – Healthy heart
Oatmeal and orange juice is an appreciated combo for breakfast, for more than its taste. Of course, we are talking about non processed oatmeal, without added sugar, salt or coloring.
Phenols are the organic compounds found in both foods that are responsible for stabilizing the levels of “bad” cholesterol when you eat them together. “The breakfast of champions” has actually been shown to prevent heart attacks and clean arteries twice as effectively as ingesting either one on its own.
Garlic and fish – Lowers cholesterol
Garlic is an herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, and as a medicine to prevent and treat an impressive range of conditions and diseases. Besides being an incredibly flavorful combination, eating garlic with fish is a great way to lower your cholesterol and increase cardiovascular health.
Both foods have their own unique cholesterol-reducing benefits and eating them together helps maximize their effects ( they increase the levels of good cholesterol too). And when these two are combined, the garlic can act as an anti-inflammatory agent, as well.
Blueberries and grapes – Immunity boost
Blueberries and grapes are rich in antioxidants and it’s a proven fact pairing these two fruits has a greater antioxidant response compared to eating them separately.
Grapes and blueberries both boost your intake of vitamin K, which is an essential nutrient. Your body relies on vitamin K to support healthy blood coagulation, or clotting, which is a process needed to reduce blood loss after tissue damage. Vitamin K also activates enzymes within your cells, and its role in enzyme activation supports bone health and aids in new cell development.
New studies discovered another great health benefit from eating these fruits together: compounds in blueberries and red grapes work with vitamin D to boost the immune system. Researchers have found that stilbenoids in the fruit increases the activity of an immune function gene.
Tip: You can have fresh blueberries and grapes all year, if you buy them in the season and freeze them in a single layer on baking sheet. Then you can store the fruits in bags and keep them in your freezer.
Soy and salmon – Fights cancer
Mixing salmon with tasty soy sauce makes a powerful food combination. Fish like salmon have a lot of vitamin D, which is something nearly everyone working in an office lacks (because we all spend so much time indoors). Added together with soy sauce means you can increase your body’s ability to fight cancer.
Unprocessed soy contains an isoflavone called genistein which inhibits enzymes in the colon and prostate, raising vitamin D’s bioavailability in those tissues.
Apples and chocolate – Cardiovascular health
I personally like this combo very much. I absolutely love chocolate (who doesn’t?) but I’ve always placed it on the list of guilty pleasures. Well, not any more: it turns out chocolate as well as grapes, red wine and tea contains the flavonoid catechin, an antioxidant that reduces the risks of atherosclerosis and cancer.
Apples, on the other hand are well known for their benefits to one’s health. They are rich in quercetin, an anti-inflammatory flavonoid, that has an important role in reducing the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, prostate and lung cancers. Remember, it’s always better to eat organic apples with their skin on. The combination between catechin and quercetin helps loosen clumpy blood platelets, improves cardiovascular health and provides anticoagulant activity.
Red meat and rosemary – Fights free radicals
I know many people enjoy a good steak, so this combination is another popular one, even if not for its health benefits.
Adding rosemary on red meat before cooking it helps neutralize some of the free radicals that can form when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Scientists speculate these free radicals called heterocyclic amines may be one of the reasons why high meat diets are linked to cancer. Rosemary contains the antioxidants rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid which lower the amount of meat’s dangerous free radicals. Now that you know this, you’ll probably be more inclined to add rosemary into your marinade recipes.
Eggs and cantaloupe – Energy boost
Eggs and cantaloupe is a perfect food pair, because it gives your energy levels a boost. Eat these foods together at breakfast and you could keep your energy levels high until lunch.
The principle is simple: “protein from the egg slows the absorption of carbohydrate in the cantaloupe, says nutritionist Stacy Kennedy of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “This synergy helps by minimizing insulin and blood-sugar spikes, which are followed by a crash, zapping energy,” says Kennedy.
High fiber foods already digest slowly; however, when eaten with a protein, such as eggs, it slows the absorption of the glucose even more, meaning we stay full even longer.
Enjoy them together: Pair a fried egg with sliced cantaloupe as part of your morning meal, or have a hard-boiled egg and cantaloupe balls for an afternoon snack.
Green tea and lemon juice – Lowers blood pressure
Green tea is high in flavonoid antioxidants called catechins, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, fight Alzheimer’s, and reduce risk of heart disease, among other benefits.The vitamin C in lemon brings out green tea’s antioxidants, allowing your body to absorb six times as many catechins.
Green tea can also prevent your body from absorbing iron, but adding lemon to your drink counteracts this negative effect. So, enjoy a cup of green tea with some freshly squeezed lemon juice(the more you add, the better). Remember do not steep the tea for more than 3 minutes, because if you leave it too long, bitter compounds are released.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or expensive. The “efforts” we make to have a healthier diet are a lot smaller than the benefits we get, including better digestion, a slimmer body, a healthier heart, and the list goes on. Pairing foods for optimal nutrition is definitely one of the easiest tricks you could do for your health.
What other great food pairs have you discovered and what are your favorite ways of adding them to your diet?
Pin this article so that you can easily find it when you’d like to start your next ketogenic diet. And don’t forget to follow us on Google+ and Pinterest so that you can easily keep up with all of our natural living, fitness, organic eating, and diet news.