SYNERGISTIC FOOD COMBINING
When it comes to food combining, we’re beginning to discover that some combinations actually enhance nutrient bioavailability. In other words, eating certain foods together boosts the nutritional value of the individual foods! This concept is often referred to as nutrient synergy because these foods work together synergistically to enhance their combined nutritional benefits.
While still in the early stages, research on these naturally occurring compounds already suggests they play a major role in reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, slowing the spread of tumor cells, and protecting the body from chronic disease. It’s also recently been found that phytochemicals can interact with each other and different vitamins and minerals to synergistically boost their combined health benefits.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SYNERGETIC FOOD COMBINING
TURMERIC + BLACK PEPPER
Turmeric contains a powerful phytochemical called curcumin, which is prized for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound shown to have an anti-cancer effect. While turmeric and black pepper are healthful on their own, when combined, curcumin’s bioavailability improves by 2,000%!
Tip: Add both spices to curries, soups, bone broth and salad dressings for a nutritional boost.
I absolutely love Farmer Angus’s bone broth. Theres no salt and no other nonsense added, just clean, pure bone broth made with all organic produce. Tip: Try adding 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to really get the most out of your bone broth!
You can even go as far as making a deliciously creamy, anti-inflammatory coconut curry soup with turmeric and black pepper – Click here for the recipe
BROCOLLI + TOMOTOES
Broccoli and tomatoes are both nutritious foods high in vitamin C, together,
they become even more nutritious. In fact, a study on prostate cancer found that when broccoli and tomatoes were combined, tumor weights decreased by 52%, significantly more than when broccoli and tomatoes were consumed on their own. Tomatoes contain a phytochemical called lycopene, which is also shown to have a cardioprotective effect
GREEN TEA + LEMON JUICE
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and has been shown to boost brain function and help protect the body from cardiovascular disease. Much of green tea’s beneficial effects are attributed to being a great source of catechin, a phytochemical. When lemon juice is added to green tea, it can help increase the bioavailability of catechins by up to five times!
Tip: Other citrus, like lime and grapefruit, may have a similar effect
SPINACH + LEMON JUICE
Vitamin C has been shown to increase the absorption of plant-based iron sources, so pairing a bit of lemon juice with a plant-based iron source, like spinach, is a nutritional win!
Tip: Other similar combos include red pepper and lentils, cauliflower and tempeh, and Brussels sprouts and sesame seeds. Drizzle your spinach with lemon juice, olive oil, a crack of pepper and a touch of Himalayan salt
KALE + AVO
Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat to be absorbed properly. The monounsaturated fats from avocado can help boost the absorption of vitamin K found in kale. Another example that pairs a fat-soluble vitamin with a fat source is sweet potato (vitamin A) and Greek yogurt.
Tip: Fortunately, some foods naturally include fat that may help boost nutrient absorption, including salmon (vitamin D), egg yolks (vitamin D), and sunflower seeds (vitamin E).
SALMON + BOK CHOY
Vitamin D helps boost the absorption of calcium – both necessary to support bone health.Combining a vitamin D source, like salmon, with a calcium source, like bok choy, will help enhance calcium absorption to support strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Tip: Mushrooms can be a plant-based source of vitamin D!
GARLIC + FISH
Most seafood lovers do not realize there is a synergy of nutrients inside a bit of fish: Minerals like zinc, iron, copper, iodine, and selenium work as cofactors to form the best use of the natural anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-reducing fish oils EPA and DHA.
Further more, cooking your fish with garlic lowers your total cholesterol better than eating those whole fillets or cloves alone.
APPLES + CHOCOLATE
Apples are known to be high in an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called quercetin, especially in their skins. (Note: It’s important to buy organic because pesticides concentrate in the skins of conventionally grown apples.) By itself, quercetin has been shown to reduce the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and prostate and lung cancers.
Chocolate, grapes, red wine, and tea, on the opposite hand, contain the flavonoid catechin, an antioxidant that reduces the risks for atherosclerosis and cancer. When combined together, catechins and quercetin loosen clumpy blood platelets, improving cardiovascular health and providing anticoagulant activity. Quercetin is also found in buckwheat, onions, and raspberries.
Susan Kraus, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, recommends the following combinations: sangria with cut-up apples; green tea with buckwheat pancakes and raspberries; and kasha (roasted buckwheat, made in a pilaf) cooked with onions.
The concept of nutrient synergy helps highlight that when it comes to our diet, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Different foods can work together to boost nutrition, and many combinations have yet to be discovered. In fact, the whole foods you already include in your diet may be synergistically helping to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and support vibrant health.