As we all know, the food we choose to eat is crucial to achieving our health goals. A healthy diet should contain a combination of important vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, antioxidants and more! Research also suggests that certain combinations of food groups can further enhance the effects of the food we eat to improve our health.
Below are some examples of nutritional powerhouses which, when combined, maximise the health benefits:
Tomatoes + Broccoli – Tomatoes, containing antioxidants such as lycopene, when combined with broccoli, containing ‘cancer-fighting’ compounds such as beta-carotene, have been proven to reduce cancerous tumour size in animal studies.
Tomatoes + Avocado – Continuing the tomato trend, the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes is absorbed most efficiently into the body when combined with healthy fats found in avocados.
Lemon + Soy Beans – Soy beans contain nearly twice as much iron as meat such as beef, yet only 7% of its iron content is usually absorbed. Combining soy beans with sources of vitamin C, such as lemons, has been found to triple absorption rates.
Chickpeas + Beetroot – Vitamin B6, found in chickpeas, helps us maintain a healthy nervous system. It also assists the body in absorbing magnesium, found in foods such as beetroot. Magnesium is a crucial mineral to our everyday functioning, converting our food to energy and breaking down protein into their respective amino acids. These are just two of approximately 600 chemical reactions magnesium is responsible for.
Lemon + Green tea / kale – Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which allows the body to absorb catechin, an antioxidant prevalent in fighting disease and found in green tea. Vitamin C also increases absorption rates of plant-based iron, crucial in haemoglobin production and found in kale.
Bananas + Yoghurt – This combination is a fantastic option post-training! The combination of carbohydrate (banana) and protein (yoghurt) elevates insulin levels which results in an increased intake of muscle-repairing amino acids. The carbohydrate found in bananas also fuels the growth of a yoghurt’s healthy bacteria and in turn regulates digestion and boosts immunity.
Dark Chocolate + Apple – Both foods contain anti-inflammatories: quercetin in apples and flavonoids in dark chocolate. Research suggests that this combination can improve circulation and reduce the risk of cardiac disease.
Turmeric + Black pepper – Turmeric has a component called curcumin which has impressive anti-inflammatory properties. Pepper enhances the absorption of curcumin, by up to 1,000 times!
Leafy greens + Fish – Calcium is found in dairy products, beans and leafy green vegetables and is crucial in maintaining healthy bones, muscles and teeth! There can be as much as a 65% greater absorption rate of calcium when consumed alongside foods containing vitamin D such as fish, eggs and meat sources such as beef.
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Fidler MC. (2004). Erythorbic acid is a potent enhancer of nonheme-iron absorption. American Journal Clinical Nutrition,79, 99-102.
Green, R et al. (2007). Common tea formulations modulate in vitro digestive recovery of green tea catechins. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 51, 1152-1162.
Jacobs, D, R. et al. (2009). Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. Amercian Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89, 1543-1548.