I’m all about finding ways to get the most nutrition out of my diet, and I love passing what I learn along to you! And guess what? I had no idea until recently that eating certain foods together actually maximizes nutrition! How cool is that?!
So what are some of the best nutrition power couples? Let’s find out!
1. Steak + Bell Pepper
Steak is a great source of iron, but pairing it with a source of vitamin C like bell pepper can help your body absorb it even more! Don’t worry, this works with other sources of iron too, like:
- Red meat (beef or pork)
- Turkey (dark meat)
And you can pair those foods with other foods rich in vitamin C like:
- Citrus fruits
This food pairing is especially helpful if you eat a lot of plant-based foods that contain non-heme iron, which your body doesn’t absorb as well as heme iron from animal products.
2. Veggies + Olive Oil
Veggies are PACKED with powerful nutrients called carotenoids. They give fruits and veggies their vibrant color and they work as antioxidants in the body. But here’s the thing – your body needs FAT to absorb them! So, pair your colorful veggies and greens with an oil-based dressing to help your body absorb every bit of nutrition it can.
You could also add eggs (with the yolk), nuts or seeds to your salad for the same benefit. All of these options are great sources of fat with a bonus of a little protein :)
3. Garlic and Onions + Whole Grains
And here I was thinking that cooking my quinoa with a little garlic and onion just made it taste like heaven. NOPE! Even better!
Your body doesn’t usually absorb a ton of iron and zinc from plant-based foods by themselves. But combining these foods with a little sulfur can help your body absorb plant-based iron and zinc more efficiently! Garlic and onion are great sources of sulfur, sooo voila! Flavor those grains with garlic and onion and you’ll maximize your nutrition from plant-based foods.
4. Turmeric + Black Pepper
Okay. This one kind of blew my mind! So not only is turmeric delicious, but it’s also kind of magical thanks to something called curcumin. This compound is an antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory. But did you know that black pepper helps your body absorb MORE curcumin? I didn’t either!
So next time you’re whipping up something tasty with turmeric, sprinkle in some fresh black pepper to get the most benefit.
5. Rice + Beans
If you’re vegetarian, you’ve probably heard of complementary plant proteins. Some health experts recommend eating certain plant-based proteins together to give your body all of the essential amino acids to make a complete protein. Examples of these pairings include:
- Beans + rice
- Peanut butter + whole wheat bread
- Hummus + whole wheat pita bread
- Salad with beans + seeds
- Tofu + brown rice or quinoa
6. Fish + Kale
Calcium and vitamin D are BFF’s, so it makes sense that pairing foods rich in these nutrients will maximize nutrition, right?!
Calcium found in veggies like kale isn’t absorbed very well without a little help. So what do you do? Bring in that vitamin D! Fatty fish like salmon and tuna is a great vitamin D-rich option, but you could also try:
- Egg yolk
It definitely doesn’t hurt to pair animal-based sources of calcium like yogurt and cheese with a good source of vitamin D listed above.
Focus on variety to maximize nutrition
These food pairings are a great reminder that variety is key for a healthy diet!
While it’s good to know little tricks to maximize the nutrition in your meals, it’s not necessary to stress about it. If you’re eating lots of different, colorful whole foods most of the time, chances are you’re doing an AMAZING job giving your body exactly what it needs.