10 food pairings that boost nutrient absorption

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 24 Aug, 2023 07:00 | 3 mins read
Broccoli and garlic
Broccoli and garlic. PHOTO/Print

Many things can affect how efficiently your body absorbs nutrients. An imbalanced gut microbiome, for example, will impact which nutrients get absorbed and which ones do not. Stress, poor sleep, age and even your weight also often undermine absorption levels.

So, how can we ensure we get as many nutrients out of what we eat as possible? When certain meals are paired up, their nutrients and plant chemicals interact to enhance each other and provide more nutrition bang.

Tomatoes and olive oil

Research shows that pairing tomatoes with olive oil is the best way to enjoy the benefits of both. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can protect against diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Olive oil has been shown to increase the absorption of lycopene from tomatoes.

Turmeric and black pepper

Turmeric is an antioxidant known for its ability to reduce pain, arthritis, and cleanse the blood. But it works even better when paired with black pepper. Studies show that black pepper helps to make the antioxidants in turmeric more bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb and use more of those disease-fighting compounds.

Salmon and leafy greens

Along with being quick to prepare and packed with antioxidants, this simple combination offers an excellent source of two key nutrients that support bone health— vitamin D and calcium. Salmon offers a rich source of vitamin D, while the leafy greens are rich in calcium. You’ll often see calcium-rich products, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. This is because vitamin D causes the reactions that allow calcium to be absorbed by the body.

Beans and rice

Beans and rice is a staple meal that has stood the test of time for many cultures. But there’s more to this simple dish than simplicity and affordability alone. Beans or chickpeas are two complementary proteins, meaning they offer a complete protein source when eaten together. Beans are also rich in fibre, which helps to balance the high-carbohydrate levels in rice. By eating rice and beans together, you’ll avoid a blood sugar spike and get a healthy plant-based protein fix.

Healthy fats and Vitamins A, D, E, K

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they need the presence of fat to be absorbed by the body. You can increase your absorption of these vitamins by pairing foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins with healthy oils.

Green vegetables are high in vitamins A and K. Vitamins A is often found in orange and yellow veggies, such as carrots. Nuts are rich in vitamin E. When you eat these colourful veggies, pair them with a healthy salad dressing made from olive oil or walnut oil, add a handful of healthy seeds, or top with avocado to get the most out of every vegetable.

Spinach and strawberries

Spinach is a rich source of iron, but iron needs vitamin C to be properly absorbed. Foods, such as strawberries, bell peppers, and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and pair perfectly with spinach. This salad helps you get the most out of both nutrients.

Green tea and lemon

Green tea is one of the world’s most famous health foods. It’s touted for its high antioxidant levels and anti-aging benefits. Adding a squeeze of lemon, which is high in vitamin C to your green tea increases the bioavailability of the healing compounds in your cup.

Grain, greens and beans

Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, or eggs, are complete proteins as is. But plant-based proteins are incomplete. They lack all the amino acids the body needs to rebuild itself. But, we can access all these amino acids simply by blending two different plant-based protein sources. A good rule to follow is to mix a grain, a green, and a bean. Usually, this combination will create a complete, nutritious, plant-based protein.

Broccoli and garlic

That garlicky stir fry is more than just good for your immunity - it could also be good for your bones! Mix foods, such as broccoli that are rich in calcium, such as sukuma wiki and cabbage with foods that are rich in inulin, such as garlic, onions and leeks. When calcium and inulin come together, it helps to improve calcium absorption and strengthen the bones.

Probiotics and everything

One of the best ways to improve your overall nutrient absorption is by starting from the root—your gut. Your gut bacteria and enzymes are responsible for breaking down food and absorbing as many nutrients as possible. If the gut bacteria is imbalanced or weakened, your nutrient absorption will decline. Probiotics are one of the best ways to boost the health of your gut bacteria to improve your overall nutrient absorption. Including natural yoghurt or kombucha in your everyday diet is a great way to start repopulating your gut with the healthy bacteria you need. For even better gut health, consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.

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