Eat healthy, eat smart; the perfect food pairings!
The digested nutrients of the foods we consume are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to our tissues. However, the proportion of nutrients, consumed in a diet, that is absorbed and utilized by our body depends on the bioavailability of micronutrients, which is – to some extent – affected by the food pairings we make. In plain terms, the way we combine certain foods together can either enhance or hinder the absorption of nutrients.
Calcium & vitamin D
Our body needs vitamin D in order to absorb more calcium. Egg yolks and tuna contain vitamin D, so pair these foods with your favorite dairy products (e.g., cheese) for maximum calcium absorption.
Iron & vitamin C
Dietary iron has two primary forms: organic (heme iron) and inorganic (non-heme). Red meat and shellfish contain high amounts of heme iron, which is easily absorbed and has a great effect on body’s iron stores. Non-heme iron comes from plant-based sources (e.g., legumes, certain vegetables such as spinach, nuts, grains such as rice, etc.), but its absorption is rather low.
For this reason, it is good to notice that the absorption of non-heme iron is greatly enhanced by the presence of an acidic environment, such as that created by vitamin C. In other words, vitamin C and plant-based sources of iron is a great food combination. You may add, for example, peppers to your rice or vinegar to your lentils. Tip: Vitamin C food sources are particularly sensitive to cooking, so prefer to add them at the time of serving.
On the other hand, there are some substances that bind iron and don’t allow it to be utilized by the body’s cells. Some examples are calcium, found in dairy products, which affects both heme and non-heme iron, as well as tannins contained in tea and coffee. Thus, drink your beverage or consume calcium-rich foods at least 1 to 2 hours before any iron source.
Fat-soluble vitamins or carotenoids & fat
Fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamin K) and carotenoids should be combined with foods rich in good fats. Carotenoids are found in red, orange and dark green vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, spinach and broccoli, while vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables. Therefore, try to consume them in combination with olive oil, avocado or nuts.
Lemon & green leafy vegetables
Lemon and green leafy vegetables help to treat anemia by increasing hemoglobin and, therefore, the bioavailability of iron.
Probiotics & prebiotics
Pairing probiotics with prebiotics promotes a healthy gut. Prebiotics act as “fertilizer” for the good bacteria, thus promoting a healthier microbiome. Combine yogurt with banana, since the inulin of bananas activates the growth of the probiotics (good bacteria) present in the yogurt.
This year, say goodbye to diets, restrictions, detoxes or binges. Promise yourself to improve your health and appearance by eating properly, balanced, smart and healthy!