We often think of putting food together because they taste awesome together: bread and butter, tomato and basil, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jam, coconut and cacao (I put that last one in there for the superfood fans :p). But there is another way…what if I told you by putting some foods together you get MORE NUTRITION! Thats right, simply by putting foods together you can get more bang for your (nutrition) buck.
So i’ve put together a few easy examples on how you can get more out of what you eat!
- Iron and vitamin C
This is one of the most popular food combos, and the first one I learnt about at uni. By putting foods high in iron with foods high in vitamin C, the iron is better absorbed. There is some cool science behind this: Iron from non-meat sources is called non-haem iron, and it’s not absorbed as well in our body as haem iron from meat sources (red meat, poultry). By eating non-haem iron rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C, the plant based foods better “let-go” of the non-haem iron.
So things to eat together based on this:
- Spinach, kale, lentils,soybeans, tofu, potatoes and legumes with
- Strawberries, chilli peppers, orange slices, a squeeze of lemon juice, or tomatoes
In an actual meal this might be something like a spinach and chickpea salad with balsamic strawberries and orange juice dressing. Or red kidney beans with lemon and chilli.
- Fat soluble vitamins and fats
Seems simple right? By consuming the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) with fats, it helps dissolve the fats and therefore have them ready for your body to absorb!
So in this case you should eat:
- Vitamin A rich foods: Sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin
- Vitamin D rich foods: Mushrooms and eggs
- Vitamin E rich foods: Almonds, sunflower seeds, and dark leafy greens
- Vitamin K rich foods: Spinach, Kale, broccoli (Basically any leafy green vegetable)
With a thumb sized portion of healthy fats:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
There are some super cool foods like salmon, egg yolks, liver, almonds and sunflower seeds that have both the fat soluble vitamins and the healthy dietary fats! They are their own little perfect nutrition package.
- Incomplete proteins
What if I told you not all protein is made the same? Protein found in animal sources is a complete protein (it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids we need-the ones our body can’t make), however plant based sources of protein don’t contain all of the essential amino acids, only some of them. But by putting plant based sources together you can make up a complete protein! For example:
- Rice and beans
- Hummus and bread (Made from wheat)
- Pasta and legumes (Think a nice pasta salad)
You don’t actually have to combine proteins to make up the complete set every meal, you can do it over the course of a day, the main thing here is to think about variety (Every food has a different nutrient profile so the more that you get the better).