Eat This…With That!

EatThisWithThatBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Just as vitamin and mineral supplements are formulated for their ability to work synergistically to enhance health, certain foods eaten together can influence how our nutrients are absorbed and utilized.  Eating food as close as possible to its natural state is the best way to improve health and prevent disease.  Some foods hinder vitamin and mineral absorption while others enhance it.  Certain foods just naturally go well with others, and there may be a good reason why.  Eating the right combinations of foods can ensure receiving optimal benefits from your food choices.  Healthy food combinations that bring out the nutritional best in each other and give you more disease-fighting bang for your buck include: 

Avocado with Tomato – Tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene, are considered a superfood.  Combine them with avocados and you have created a recipe for enhanced lycopene absorption.  The healthy fat in the avocado can help your body absorb up to 7 times more of the antioxidant.  Other healthy fats such as olive oil also enhance antioxidant absorption, which is highly beneficial for the heart and boosts liver function and detoxification. 

Spinach and Oranges – Spinach is loaded with iron but when eaten alone the absorption level is low.  Combine spinach with the vitamin C found in citrus and the iron is converted into a more absorbable form.  Any vitamin C-rich food will do, so add a tomato, some strawberries or a sliced red pepper.  Vitamin  C absorption is enhanced by calcium and magnesium, which is found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale.

Salmon and Turmeric –  Combining turmeric with salmon boosts the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon.  Both have high anti-inflammatory properties supporting, cardiovascular health and providing anti-aging benefits.  Combining dark green leafy vegetables, rich in calcium, with vitamin D-enriched salmon will aid in the absorption of calcium from the vegetables.  Adding black pepper aids in the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. 

Yogurt and Whole Grains – Pairing the probiotics in yogurt with whole grain fiber-rich foods promotes healthy intestinal flora and aids the absorptive surface in the stomach, allowing for maximum nutrient absorption.  Add a banana into the mix and you get a dose of inulin, which aids calcium absorption for healthy bone support.  Vitamin D is crucial to absorbing calcium and Vitamin C,  so pair your yogurt with a few minutes of morning sunshine several times each week.   

Colorful Vegetables and Healthy Fats – Many fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which are fat-soluble, heart protecting phytonutrients.  Eating these with good fats such as olive oil aids in the absorption of other nutrients like vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health and blood clotting.  The vitamin A produced from beta-carotene supports a healthy immune and reproductive system.  To receive full nutritive value, add a handful of nuts or pour a bit of olive oil on those veggies and salads and skip the sugar laden, fat-free commercial salad dressings. 

Green Tea and Lemon – Green tea contains catechins, powerful antioxidants which help to protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage.  Combining green tea with lemon dramatically increases the absorption of those catechins.  Eating any vitamin C-enriched fruit along with your tea works equally well. 

Nuts and Beans with Fruits and Vegetables – The vitamin C found in kiwi and citrus fruits, and vegetables such as broccoli or bell peppers amps up vitamin E absorption, which benefits your eye health and helps prevent macular degeneration.  

Whole Grains with Onion and Garlic – The sulfur compounds in onions and garlic help boost absorption of zinc, which is found in whole grains and aids in immune defense and wound healing.   Add broccoli, rich in sulforaphane that aids in the absorption of selenium, which protects the thyroid and has cancer fighting properties. 

Red Meat and Rosemary – Rosemary is rich in rosmarinic and carnosic acids which neutralize carcinogens such as heterocyclic acid that form on cooked meat.  There’s a good reason why lamb and rosemary work so well together. 

Pork and Sauerkraut – Although we often eat meat with starches, it’s not the best option for healthy digestion.  Fermented vegetables bolster digestion-friendly probiotic organisms which bolster your immune system.  For the best nutrient absorption, pair animal protein with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, spinach or kale. 

Eggs and Cheese –  Eggs contain naturally occurring vitamin D which aids in the absorption of the calcium found in the cheese.  Sufficient calcium levels promote neurotransmitter health, stabilize hormones and offer bone and heart protection. 

If you tend to skip a meal here and there, these recommendations might fill the gap.

Calcium, Magnesium & Potassium by Innate Response FormulasThis whole food formula, with a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, contains the average ratio found in 171 fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  These synergistic minerals are delivered in a nutrient dense organic blend for enhanced utilization. 

Greens Q by Quantum Nutrition Labs –  Quantum Greens contains a live-sourced, superior nutritional formula for optimal absorption, health and rejuvenation. 

Turmeric Curcumin 1000 mg by Physiologics –  This product contains active and beneficial curcuminoids, plant based antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. 

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