“Food Synergy” or foods that work better together, than apart, is an excellent way to get the maximum amount of nutrients out of the foods you eat. Certain nutrients in fact, work better in our bodies when they are combined with other nutrients, than when eaten alone. What can you eat that will help your body absorb vitamins and minerals more efficiently? Read on to find out!
1. Tomato & Avocado
Tomatoes contain lycopene, and lycopene is best absorbed by the intestines when it is combined with a healthy fat source like avocado. Lycopene is a pigment-rich antioxidant, also known as a carotenoid which helps reduce cardiovascular disease and cancer risk. In order to reap the benefits of these effects it is important that we eat a healthy fat source while eating lycopene-rich foods to ensure full utilization of the antioxidants in these foods.
2. Chickpeas & Beetroot
Chickpeas are rich in B vitamins, such as vitamin B6, and beet roots are an excellent source of magnesium. What do these two nutrients have to do with one another? Well, vitamin B6 helps the body absorb magnesium, and this powerful combination in turn help the body deal with symptoms of both PMS, ADHD, and autism. A study found that when magnesium and vitamin B6 were supplemented together, autistic children had improved social interaction and communication, and when supplementation was discontinued, their behavioural problems returned (1).
3. Lemon & Green Tea
Catechins are antioxidants in green tea that have been found to help combat cancer. It has been found that adding something acidic with green tea, such as citrus (especially lemon), can help increase the amount of catechins the body can absorb. In fact, the highest recovery for catechin absorption was found when green tea was combined with citrus juices like orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime juice (2). Next time you reach for a cup of green tea, make sure to spritz some fresh lemon juice in your cup in order to fully appreciate all the benefits green tea has to offer.
4. Broccoli & Tomato
Researchers at the University of Illinois found that the combination of broccoli and tomatoes has the ability to reduce cancer-related tumour growth. The carotenoids in tomatoes help to increase the bioactive components (aka. selenium) in broccoli, and yield the most cancer-preventative benefits. Laboratory studies have also suggested that combining broccoli and tomatoes is much more beneficial in slowing the growth rate of cancerous prostate tumours than diets that contain only one of these vegetables alone (or eaten at separate time points throughout the day, 3).
5. Lemon & Kale
Plant-based iron is much more easily absorbed when it is combined with vitamin C., according to nutritionist Stacy Kennedy of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The vitamin C actually turns the plant-based iron into a form that is similar to the iron found in meat and fish. The powerful combination of lemon and kale will therefore ensure you absorb every last bit of iron present in the kale, opposed to eating it alone. Other sources of vitamin C could include any other citrus fruit or strawberries, and vegetables like red peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes, and combining them with iron-rich greens like leeks, beet greens, spinach, mustard greens, or swiss chard.
(1) Mousain-Bosc, M., Roche., M., Polge, A., Pradal-Prat, D., Rapin, J., & Bali, J. (2006) Improvement of neurobehavioural disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. Magnesium Research, 19, 53-62.
(2) Green, R., Murphy, A., Schulz, B., Watkins, B., & Ferruzzi, M. (2007) Common tea formulations modulate in vitro digestive recovery of green tea catechins. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 51, 1152-1162.
(3) Science Daily: Worried About Prostate Cancer? Tomato-Broccoli Combo Shown To Be Effective