Food Synergy : 10 Best Food Pairings to Perk Up Your Health
Some foods complement each other just so well that they seem to make each other better! As though they were meant to be together, they blend with each other in a synergistic rhythm. I call such food pairings – “The Perfect Food Couples”.
What if I told you that certain food combinations not only amp up the flavour coefficient but improve their overall nutritional value! Certain ingredients when used together, turn them from individually regular dishes into healing superfoods. Certain combinations can help to provide better nourishment by improving the body’s ability to utilize these nutrients, also called bioavailability.
This concept of “food synergy” may be nature’s own meal plan to make us fitter. Try combining some of these synergistic foods in your diet for a healthier you –
- Lemon & Green Tea
Squirt some lemon juice into your morning cuppa. The Vitamin C in the lemon facilitates the absorption of the green tea’s antioxidants – catechins, in the body.
Caffeine containing beverages such as green tea tends to cause our body to become acidic.
Lemon helps to make the body PH alkaline & hence, adding lemon juice to the green tea will help to buffer acidity.
- Fish & Garlic
Garlic has sulphur compounds which help to boost one’s immunity and also reduce bad cholesterol levels. Fish being rich in protein & Omega 3 also boosts one’s immunity & reduces inflammation in the body. Use garlic in your fish marinade to help boost the therapeutic properties of fish and garlic & to drop the LDL & triglyceride levels. This combination of foods does the job more more efficiently together than when eaten separately.
- Rosemary & Steak
The robust flavour of Rosemary blends very well with the meat steak. Using Rosemary to marinate or flavour your steak helps to neutralize the carcinogenic compounds such as Heterocyclic Amine (HCA) that are formed when you char the meat or cook it at a high temperature. This is due to the high antioxidant content such as Carnosic acid & Carnosol in the Rosemary. Always make sure to consume grass fed, organic meat.
- Vinegar & Rice
Vinegar helps to improve insulin sensitivity. Combining vinegar with a rice based meal helps to shallow out and prevent spikes in the blood sugar levels by 20-35%. This is particularly important for someone who is diabetic or simply watching their weight.
- Tomato & Olive Oil
Tomatoes are rich in phytochemicals called Lycopene which help to fight prostate cancer by improving prostate health and prevent heart disease. These carotenoids being fat soluble, combining tomatoes with a little fat in the form of an olive oil drizzle, makes them more easily available to the body to absorb and benefit from.
- Lemon & Spinach
Spinach has an abundance of Iron. Being a plant based (non-heme) source of iron, the bio-availability of this nutrient in the body is poor. Vitamin C in the lemon helps to improve the absorption of iron into the body.
Vitamin C aids in better absorption of iron from all iron containing plant based sources such as Garden Cress seeds & Wheatgrass. Simply add soaked garden cress seeds or wheatgrass powder to a glass of water with some lemon juice mixed in there to help that iron be more bioavailable.
- Turmeric & Pepper
We’ve all heard of the numerous benefits of Haldi ranging from healing wounds to reducing the sniffles. Turmeric also has a lot of benefits such as boosting immunity, lowering cholesterol, improving liver function, etc. However, Curcumin (the active component of turmeric) does not get absorbed & passes through our systems only to be flushed out mostly unused. Consuming pepper with turmeric increases the absorption of Curcumin multifold by making it bio-available to us.
One must look for curcumin along-with piperine, when buying a curcumin supplement. If you don’t have piperine added in the supplement, it is important to add a pinch of pepper to the water that you have with the pill for better bioavailability.
- Vitamin E & Selenium
Selenium & Vitamin E on their own are superfoods for boosting immunity & reducing gut and skin issues. However, combining the two nutrients seems to have a better effect for reducing inflammation. Studies have shown a decrease in proliferation markers of prostate cancer when treated with a combination of Vitamin E & Selenium.
- Some sources of Vitamin E are – Almonds, Peanuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Green Leafy vegetables like Spinach & Broccoli and Wheat germ.
- Sources of Selenium include – Brazil nuts, Fish, Whole grain cereals, Chicken, Eggs, Mushrooms, Lentils, Banana, Brown Rice and Oatmeal.
To get the best out of both, you could have some grilled fish with steamed broccoli on the side or sprinkle your oatmeal with lightly roasted almonds & sunflower seeds or combine spinach with mushroom to enjoy these sautéed veggies with steamed brown rice. Experiment away and make your own combinations as you please.
- Calcium & Vitamin D
Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium in the body. When Vitamin D levels are low, no matter how much calcium you pump into your system, it won’t be absorbed. This is the reason why your calcium supplement will also have a small amount of Vitamin D added to it.
Very few foods in nature contain Vitamin D, although some sources such as fatty fish (like Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel), egg yolks and mushrooms are rich in it.
Combining these foods with calcium rich food sources such as Broccoli, cabbage, non-gmo soya bean, seeds like sesame, poppy, chia seeds, almonds, beans & of-course dairy products will help to improve the overall nutritional value.
Whole eggs for breakfast with a glass of A2 organic cow milk make for a perfect breakfast & makes it a super food for healthy bones. Egg yolks being rich in Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from milk. This is particularly important in preventing brittle bones & osteoporosis.
In case of lactose intolerance, you can also go for nut milk such as almond milk with the egg for your calcium needs or else add some chopped spinach to your egg omelette.
Now that we’ve learned about Vitamin D & Calcium’s synergetic relation, we must also appreciate the power of Magnesium & its importance in allowing Calcium to do its job. Not many know that you need magnesium to help your body absorb & retain Calcium. It has now been established that magnesium is the key to the body’s proper assimilation & use of Calcium.
Magnesium is found in whole grains, cacao, nuts, seafood, legumes, peas, carrots & green leafy vegetables. Having said that, too much calcium without adequately balancing it with magnesium, may cause a magnesium deficiency or malabsorption & can have adverse effects on the body. The body tends to hold on to calcium & either store it or recycle it. Magnesium on the other hand, is either used up or excreted from our body & hence need to be replenished on a regular daily basis.
- Cereal and Pulse
Our Indian diet is traditionally plant based with a majority of the population being vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian & consumption of meat is fairly lower. A conventional Indian thali is a well-balanced combination of some lentils with rotis or dal & rice or khichdi which is an ideal cereal & pulse combination.
This combination in the right ratio enables us to get the required complete protein that we need, which a vegetarian diet is otherwise lacking,
We need complete protein to boost our immunity, for repair & recovery of cells & for muscle building.
This beautiful synergy of ingredients which is an intrinsic part of our native culture is what we need to keep in mind when it comes to staying healthy & getting maximum nourishment from everything we eat.
Good food is made great when eaten intelligently. By understanding how our incredibly complex bodies work, we can adjust our diets to best suit it and aid it along our way to wellness and good health.
Disclaimer- We do not promote these food combinations as a replacement/substitute for any medication/treatment or supplements. Please consult your nutritionist, doctor and other healthcare professionals regarding supplement recommendations or medical advice as per your individual requirements and health conditions.
Effect on Vinegar on blood sugars when had with rice- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/