Healthy Eating: This n’ that.
(photo credit: courtesy)
Each week this column delves into the health
benefits of different foods – how they are loaded with disease fighting
vitamins, minerals, fiber and of course all powerful antioxidants; but what
happens when you combine two of these super foods? Does their power merely
double? Or does it increase exponentially?
Food synergy, the science of
combining foods, is on the rise as more and more studies have found that
combining two super foods together increases their health benefits
Check out these six winning pairs and see how easy it
would be to work the combination into your daily life:
Winning Combo # 1: Green
Tea + Lemon
Loaded with antioxidants, green tea is one of the healthiest (hot)
beverages out there. But did you know you could make your green tea even more
powerful? Many of us already squeeze lemon into our tea, but did you know that
by squeezing lemon juice into green tea you are in fact boosting the tea’s
health benefits substantially?
Green tea’s nutritional benefits derive from its
ample supply of catechins – antioxidant compounds that speed up the
metabolism and reduce the risk of cellular damage that can lead to cancer. Just a
few drops of lemon contain enough Vitamin C to help reduce the breakdown of
catechins in the digestive system, thus allowing us to absorb nearly five times
more of this powerful antioxidant.
Winning Combo #2: Beans + Greens
from the words rhyming, why exactly do beans and greens work together? Most of us
have probably heard that beans are loaded with iron, non-heme iron to be exact.
Unlike heme iron, which is found in animal protein, non-heme iron is the plant
based form of the mineral. While both provide us with nutritional benefits, the
body does not as readily absorb non-heme iron.
So what does this have to do with
eating beans with some greens? When you eat these two together, the Vitamin C in
the greens helps the body absorb plant-based iron (in the beans). The same trick
applies to squeezing lemon onto spinach and tofu, two other great sources of
Winning Combo #3: Apples + Grapes
Mixing fruits together creates
a delectable and refreshing snack, but did you know that mixing some of your
favorite fruits together boosts their health benefits? Apples are loaded with
numerous health beneficial nutrients including Vitamin C, fiber and quercetin –
a flavonoid that has been shown to protect cells against destructive
cancer-causing free radicals. When quercetin is eaten in conjunction with
catechin, found in abundance in grapes, the combo may in fact help to prevent
blood clots as well as boost overall heart health. This heart healthy
antioxidant is found in chocolate, red wine and of course green tea, as well as
Winning Combo #4: Sweet Potato + Olive Oil
pack a mean punch when it comes to health benefits. Loaded with beta-carotene,
these orange veggies supplythe body with its entire recommended intake of
Vitamin A. However, beta-carotene is more than just a pre-cursor to Vitamin A,
it’s a powerful antioxidant that has been linked with decreasing the risk of
cancer, heart disease as well as signs of aging. So what will adding olive oil
do? Studies have found that eating beta-carotene with a healthy fat, such as
olive oil, helps the body absorb significantly more of the orange anti-oxidant
than it would without it.
Winning Combo # 5: Brown Rice + Onions
such as brown rice, are loaded with nutrients including zinc and iron, two
minerals needed to maintain a healthy metabolism, immunity function as well as
energy levels. So what does throwing in some onions do? Both zinc and
(plant-based) iron are not so easily absorbed by the body; however, when you mix
in onions, the high sulfur content boosts the body’s absorbance of these two
Winning Combo #6: Broccoli + Tomatoes
Both broccoli and
tomatoes are winning health foods in their own right. Tomatoes are abundant in
lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that slays all damaging free radicals in its
path; while broccoli helps the liver remove harmful cancer causing toxins.
Bothof these are anti-cancer powerhouses, but studies have found that their
superpower for fighting prostate cancer increases substantially when consumed
together. So the next time you order a salad, throw in some raw broccoli, or mix
broccoli to pasta topped with tomato sauce.