Some foods give you maximum nutritional value when they are paired. We tell you which foods you should always eat in combination to prevent certain conditions and also give you the highest health and nutritional benefits.
To boost your digestion
Natural yoghurt with good probiotic bacteria helps boost your digestive health and immunity by keeping ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut at bay. But probiotics also need prebiotics (non-digestible fibres found in many healthy foods) to help the beneficial bacteria to survive and thrive in your gut. Eating a diet that includes prebiotics and probiotics may help increase the levels of these friendly bacteria. Bananas are the top source of prebiotic fibre, along with artichokes, barley, berries, flaxseeds, garlic, leeks and onions, kale (sukuma wiki) and honey. Top your morning yoghurt with chopped bananas and a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds. Don’t have flaxseeds whole, as they will just pass through your digestive system without being broken down and come out as waste. First put them through a coffee grinder.
To protect your heart
Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins. According to studies, this wonder tea helps cut your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke when drank daily. Trouble is, only about 20 per cent of the valuable catechins in a cup of tea survive digestion and are able to be absorbed by the body. A study at Purdue University in the US found squeezing lemon juice into your cup of tea helps stabilise the antioxidants, allowing around 80 per cent of the catechins to survive and be absorbed. Orange and lime juices work too, but lemon has the most powerful effect.
To protect against cancer
Tomatoes contains lots of lycopene, the red carotenoid pigment thought to be protective against certain types of cancer, such as lung, prostate, and stomach, as well as cardiovascular disease. Some studies suggest when tomatoes or tomato-based products, such as tomato paste and ketchup, are consumed with good fat, such as olive oil, lycopene may be better absorbed by the body and therefore potentially be of more health and nutritional benefit. Top your pasta with a tomato sauce made with olive oil. Eat potatoes with ketchup. Make a tomato salad and drizzle it with olive oil.
To benefit your eyes
Carrots and other orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and mangoes, are rich in carotenoids and are a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. Some studies have shown absorption of vitamin A from these foods can be enhanced if they are eaten with good fats, such as olive oil, or foods containing healthy fat, such as avocado. This is because carotenes are fat-soluble. A carrot salad topped with avocado is a perfect choice.
For more energy
Red meat is a rich source of haem iron, a form readily absorbed by the body. Too much of red meat, though, is not healthy for you. The other source of iron is plant based and found in foods such as spinach, beans, lentils and apricots. However, this is non-haem, which is less readily absorbed. Studies show adding vitamin C to your spinach changes the iron to its non-oxidised, or haem iron state, making it more readily absorbed. Iron is an important energy booster and being deficient can make you feel fatigued and lethargic. So having some orange juice with your meal may help you absorb iron better. Or add other vitamin-C rich vegetables, such as red peppers or tomatoes, to meals containing leafy greens. This is extremely important if you are vegetarian, as you are more likely to be iron-deficient.