Healthy Eating: This n’ that

Check out these six winning food combinations and find out what they can do for you.

By KATHRYN RUBIN
February 28, 2013 15:47
4 minute read.
broccoli

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 substantially.

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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

Aside 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 non-heme iron.

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 red grapes.

Winning Combo #4: Sweet Potato + Olive Oil

Sweet potatoes 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


Whole grains, 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 essential minerals.

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.



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