Just like cereal and milk, certain foods just pair up so well and belong together. One could not do without the other, just like how the food that you pair or group together for meals can help you improve the absorption of the nutrients in your body. Just imagine eating a truckload of baby spinach salad in hope to boost iron in your body only to realise that fast absorption of iron in your body requires vitamin C. But you went all out with eating the leaves in a plain vanilla way without a trace of vitamin C. Now, that is not very clever, is it?
Read on to see what pairings are a match made in heaven and how you can couple up your foods for better nutrition and reap more benefits for your body. And not forgetting the plethora of tasty combinations that you can whip up to tickle your taste buds too!
Iron + Vitamin C
First up on the list of food synergy is iron and vitamin C. The pairing of these two lies in the fact that your body absorbs iron much more effectively when vitamin C is present. Iron makes up the largest part of haemoglobin in your red blood cells and vitamin C is essential to maintain healthy blood vessels in the body. Thus this combination can increase the rate of absorption in your body. This is also why consuming adequate levels of vitamin C at the same time as iron, is important for people with anaemia too.
Iron from non-meat sources like tofu, beets, beans and spinach, is best absorbed when paired with vitamin C. Hence in your next baby spinach salad, try adding in some sliced bell peppers or beets, a touch of refreshing lemon juice or perhaps a handful of blueberries to boost up. Aim to get at least 25 milligrams of vitamin C in meals that contain plant-based iron sources to aid absorption.
Fish Oil + Vitamin B3
In the search for the ultimate cholesterol-reducing pair? This is the couple that you should go to. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can usually be derived from oily fishes like anchovies, mackerel, herring, and tuna. It can also be produced from the livers of other fishes like cod. Fish oil can reduce some of the risks that are associated with heart and eye diseases and reduce bad cholesterol.
Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin, is purported to lower LDL cholesterol in your body. But to achieve this benefit with only niacin, a high dosage is required which can cause liver problems. Hence, when partnered with anti-inflammatory and triglyceride-lowering fish oil, the pair is made more beneficial in balancing good and bad cholesterol in your body. For a delicious combination to gain the benefits, try having some sauteed mushrooms and sliced avocado with a tuna tataki salad, tossed in a drizzle of sesame peanut dressing. If you are all about a slab of fish, try grilled sea bass with cremini mushrooms.
Calcium + Vitamin D
You probably already know that you need calcium to fend off osteoporosis. It is essentially a building block for your bones and to maintain bone strength throughout your lifetime.
Vitamin D helps your gut to absorb calcium from the foods that you eat in the digestive system. It also blocks parathyroid hormone (which makes bones weak and brittle by reabsorbing bone tissue) from being released. However, vitamin D cannot be found in fresh fruits and vegetables. It is mostly obtained through sun exposure, specific foods like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and bluefish and over-the-counter supplements. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to help you keep your bone health to a tee. Being deficient in vitamin D in your diet is pretty much leaving the calcium that you have ingested to go to waste. So the next time you have broccoli and cheese, pair it up with some grilled salmon for a generous helping of each nutrient.
Vitamins A, D, E and K + Healthy Fats
Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K, are absorbed into your bloodstream more easily when you ingest them with fat. Vitamin A is made up of-of fat-soluble compounds and the best way to get vitamin A in your diet is through consuming liver and fish oil. You may also obtain a sufficient amount from pro-vitamin A carotenoids, like beta-carotene, which are found in vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and cherries. So drizzle some olive oil on some juicy tomatoes and pop them into the oven for a quick side dish to your mains. Not only are they delicious, but they also contain lycopene, a fat-soluble antioxidant, which can fight free radicals in your body, helping you achieve youthful skin. Tomatoes are great sources of vitamin K too! As for options to pair healthy fats with vitamin D and E, try the easy recipe of baked half avocados with eggs for breakfast, yums!