Most of the time, we plan meals around flavors that go well together. While this approach appeals to our taste buds, science may have some additional guidance on pairing foods.
When food is digested, it is broken down into individual vitamins and minerals. Before our bodies can actually use these vitamins and minerals, they must be absorbed through the intestine. There are many factors that help or hinder the absorption of these vitamins and minerals. In some cases, eating specific nutrients together can make a meaningful difference in how much these nutrients are absorbed. These unique chemical relationships mean we can lend a hand by eating foods in specific combinations. Here are a few to try out:
Strawberry and Spinach (Vitamin C and Iron)
This combination is a refreshing way to get vitamin C (strawberry) and iron (spinach). When vitamin C is eaten with iron, the body is better able to absorb iron. Eating this combination is especially useful when eating iron from plant sources (beans or vegetables) because plant-based iron is more difficult to absorb than animal-based.
Photo and recipe: EatingWell
Olive Oil and Leafy Greens (Fat and Vitamins A, K and E)
Salad dressing is a must if you want to make the most of your salads. Four key vitamins — A, E, D and K — are fat-soluble, which means they must be eaten with fat to be absorbed. When having a salad, including a reasonable amount of dressing made with a healthy fat is a great way to ensure you are absorbing all the fat-soluble vitamins.
Carrots and Hummus (Fiber and Protein)
Having a snack with protein and a high-fiber carbohydrate will help you stay fuller longer. That’s because both fiber and protein are nutrients that help you feel satiated. It’s what make them so popular in the weight loss world. Pairing high-fiber carrots with hummus — which is made from protein-rich garbanzo beans — makes for a great snack choice.
Try: Classic Hummus
Photo and recipe: Gimme Some Oven via Yummly
There are many other options for pairing foods with these nutrients, which is what makes cooking both enjoyable and healthy. Share your favorites combinations in the comments below!