We all know we should be eating a healthy, balanced diet to ensure our bodies get all the nutrients we need. Now, recent studies have shown that when we pair certain foods and drinks together they can provide added nutrition and health benefits and taste great, too!
1. Brown Rice With Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic contain compounds which have been shown to make it easier for the body to absorb zinc and iron from whole-grain foods like brown rice. Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and helps with the healing of wounds.
Recipe Inspiration: Make a brown rice, red onion, and avocado salad. Heat one tablespoon of olive in a small frying pan, one finely chopped red onion, and one crushed clove of garlic, and sauté for four to five minutes. Add brown basmati rice and seven ounces of chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes and adding more stock if necessary. Allow to cool, then add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes and a diced avocado, along with one tablespoon chopped fresh chives.
2. Orange Juice With Breakfast Cereal
Although foods like breakfast cereals, beans, and some green vegetables, such as spinach, contain iron, it’s not as easily absorbed by the body as the iron in meat. Studies have shown that vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from plant foods when consumed together. This is why a glass of orange juice, which provides the vitamin C, and oatmeal, which are a source of iron, make a great combination.
Why is it important? Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the formation of healthy red blood cells. Low iron levels in the blood is related to tiredness and fatigue.
Recipe inspiration: For a different breakfast option or if you are following a dairy-free diet, why not soak oats in orange juice overnight and add dairy-free plain yogurt and fresh berries to give your breakfast some zing in the morning!
3. Eggs With Vegetables
A study carried out at Purdue University in Indiana revealed that eating eggs with vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, and spinach, will boost absorbtion of carotenoids from the vegetables. In the study, the men in the groups who ate the salad-and-egg combo absorbed between three to nine times more carotenoids from the salad by itself.
Why is it important? Carotenoids found in vegetables including betcarotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are believed to be linked to the health benefits associated with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and their juices.
Recipe inspiration: The classic salad nicoise provides a perfect combination of vegetables (green beans), boiled eggs, and tuna which boost the vegetable contribution of egg sandwiches. In addition, add a generous handful of watercress to your meal.
4. Salad Leaves and Oil-Based Salad Dressing
A good salad dressing can enhance the taste of a salad, but did you know scientists at Purdue University have confirmed that fat in the diet can play an important role in assisting the absorption of other beneficial components of the diet? Researchers discovered that the oil in salad dressing can help the body to absorb phytochemicals (naturally occuring chemicals found in plants) from an accompanying salad.
Why is this important? Emerging science suggests that phytochemicals may be related to the health benefits associated with diets high in fruits, vegetables, and their juices, but just becuase they are present in a certain food, doesn’t mean that they are optimally absorbed. Many phytochemicals, like some vitamins, are fat soluble.
Recipe Inspiration: Although most supermarkets offer a good selection of salad dressings, it’s quick and easy to make your own. Use extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, or a flavored olive oil such as lemon, chilli, and garlic which adds a kick to dressings. Try making an orange and poppy seed salad dressing. Whisk together three ounces orange juice, two teaspoons Dijon mustard, two tablespoons apple cider vinegar, four tablespoons olive oil, one teaspoon poppy seed, and seasoning to taste.
5. Avocado and Tomatoes
Researchers from Ohio State University found that when volunteers ate tomatoes and avocados during the same meal, they absorbed 44 times more lycopene from the tomatoes compared with when they ate just tomatoes.
Why is this important? Lycopene, which is the phytochemical that gives tomatoes their characteristic red color, may have important health benefits.
Recipe Inspiration: Make a healthy tomato and avocado salsa to serve with fish or chicken. Dice the flesh from two ripe avocados, mix with a handful of sliced baby cherry tomatoes, some finely diced red onion, diced fresh chilli, and some chopped fresh cilantro (optional). The mixture can also be piled on toasted ciabatta or French bread to make bruschetta.
This article was originally written by Yours editors. For more, check out our sister site, Yours.