(photo credit: Courtesy)
We know that one plus one equals two, and that two plus two equals four;
but did you know that one food plus another food can more than double,
in fact may even multiply its nutritional benefits?
A new science called "food synergy" says that the key to staying healthy
may not be what one eats, but instead what foods one mixes as certain
combinations contain nutrients that complement each other.
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So here is a list of certain foods (some surprising) that make excellent meal mates:
Apples + Chocolate
apple a day keeps the doctor away; but did you know that an apple plus
chocolate can keep the cardiac surgeon away? Apples, particularly red
delicious with their skin on, are rich in quercetin - an
anti-inflammatory flavonoid that suppresses allergies, reduces the risk
of heart attacks and certain cancers. On the other hand (dark)
chocolate, as well as grapes, red wine, tea and blueberries, are loaded
with catechin - an anti-oxidant which cuts the risk of cancer and
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
While individually both catechin and quercetin are beneficial, blended
together the combination loosens clumpy blood platelets so that they
don't stick together and clog arteries, thus lower the risk of heart
attacks and strokes. So the next time you are in the mood for something
sweet, grab a deliciously red delicious with a square of dark chocolate.
Spinach + Lemon
As we know from Popeye the Sailor Man
spinach makes us “strong”. Wondering why? Spinach (as well as many dark
green vegetables) is loaded with iron – and essential mineral needed by
our hemoglobin to carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our
bodies. Now lemons, like any citrus fruit, are packed with Vitamin C.
When eaten together, the Vitamin C increases the amount of plant-based
iron absorbed by six times the amount it normally would be.
Also, don’t forget to drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice the
next time you are eating iron fortified cereal.
Scrambled Eggs + Cantaloupe
This may sound like a strange combo; however, pairing this favorite
breakfast dish with fruit or whole grain toast is the key to keeping
yourself feeling full longer. While process carbohydrates, such as
white toast, muffins and bagels, are indeed yummy, the glucose (sugar) that
these foods release is quickly absorbed by our bodies, setting us up for
a blood-sugar spike then crash only a few short hours after breakfast.
So ditch the morning muffin and the sugary cereal, and opt of high fiber
fruits, breads or cereal paired with a protein. High fiber foods
already digest slowly; however, when we eaten with a protein, such as
eggs, it slows the absorption of the glucose even more, meaning that we
stay full even longer.
Tomatoes + Avocados
It is really no surprise that tomatoes and avocados are healthy for us;
but what is it about this combination that makes these two foods go from
merely healthy to almighty?
Tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene -
a powerful anti-oxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and
cardiovascular disease. Avocados on the other hand are loaded with
healthy monounsaturated fat. When eaten together, the “good” fat from
the avocados allows our bodies to absorb up to seven times more lycopene
than it normally would. So the next time you are mixing up some guacamole make sure to add in
some tomatoes. However, if avocados do not top your list of favorite
foods, then drizzle some olive oil (also rich in monounsaturated fat)
over your tomatoes.
Peanut Butter + Milk
We just saw how "good" fats help increase lycopene absorption; but did
you know that certain vitamins - the fat soluble ones - A,D, and E - are also absorbed better when eaten with a
fat? Naturally Vitamin D comes only from the sun (hence its nickname
the "sunshine vitamin"); however, certain products, namely milk and
yogurt, are fortified with this vitamin. Therefore, drinking milk while
snacking on a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat such as peanut butter
allows our bodies absorb the maximum amount of this bone-building
This trick also applies to the other two fat-soluble vitamins A and E.
Most vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, sweat potatoes, bell peppers
and peas are all loaded with these two vitamins. So the next time you
make a salad skip the fat-free or low-fat salad dressing, and opt to
dress your veggies in olive oil- one of the highest sources of this
Green Tea + Lemon
Green tea is one of those miracle foods– it boosts metabolism, reduces
the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and rheumatoid arthritis as
well as helps with high cholesterol and infections. But what makes this
tea so powerful? Green tea is loaded with catechin polyphenols, which in
turn contain the anti-oxidant: EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). It is
this anti-oxidant that gives green tea its "super hero" abilities. When
green tea is drunk with lemon, its benefits become super-charged as the
citric acid and Vitamin C allow our bodies to absorb up to 13 times the
EGCG than we would get from drinking the tea on its own.
Other super combos for breakfast, lunch and dinner:
Freshly Squeezed OJ + Old Fashioned oatmeal:
of these two morning staple item is truly a breakfast for champions.
Consuming the two foods together has been proven to reduce the risk of
heart attack twice as much as if you were to consumer either food on its
own. Why? The organic compound - phenols - found in both foods, work
together to stabilize (the "bad") LDL cholesterol levels when consumed
Peanut Butter + Whole Wheat Toast:
Whole wheat bread, while extremely healthy lacks certain amino acids
(needed to synthesize protein in our bodies). Peanuts on the other hand
contains those missing amino acids. So chow down on this classic school
yard lunch to give your body the complete amino acid package.
Red Meat + Rosemary:
Red meat has gotten a bad rep in the last decade or so; however, lean
red meat is actually really important for us, as it is loaded with
protein and iron. Unfortunately, grilling meat over an open flame or
cooking it at high temperatures produces nasty cancer-causing
heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Luckily though, the herb rosemary contains
rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid – two anti-oxidants which have been
shown to dramatically reduce the amount the carcinogens in the meat. So
before you fire you the grill, make sure to have some fresh rosemary on