Micronutrient Combinations For Your Health
A few weeks ago, we talked about Food Combining to help digestion. Now we’re going to go a little deeper into which foods work best with each other to increase nutrient absorption and, most importantly, taste. Some of these foods, as you will see, have naturally been paired together at restaurants or during your cultural theme nights (like guacamole and salsa).
Let us help you discover WHY some foods just go better together.
Quercetin and Ellagic Acid
Individually, quercetin and ellagic acid are nutrient powerhouses. Quercetin alone not only prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation but also helps the body cope with allergens and other lung and breathing problems. It is a fantastic nutrient to start storing before the seasonal allergies that come along in the Spring.
You can find quercetin in:
- Red onions
- citrus fruits
- leafy vegetables
- Bell Peppers
- Red Grapes
- Black Tea
- Green Tea
Ellagic acid has been proven in many clinical studies to act as an antioxidant and anticarcinogen in the gastrointestinal tract. This nutrient also has been proven to have an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells, because it decreases their energy production. Where can you find this super nutrient?
Ellagic acid can be mainly found in:
- Berries such as raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and strawberries
As we mentioned, individually, these two nutrients are incredible. Put them together and now you have an even stronger cancer-fighting combo. The synergistic interaction of ellagic acid and quercetin demonstrated an enhanced anticarcinogenic effect which was not only based on the addition of these two powerful compounds but rather on how they enhance each other in the cells.
What does this mean? It means that you can to magnify the benefits of these two nutrients by combining quercetin foods with ellagic acid foods. The effect of their antioxidants, together, is multiplied rather than just added to make a greater impact. Try adding pomegranate seeds on your kale salad or grab some walnuts and pecans to eat with your red grapes at snack time.
Vitamin C and Iron
We’ve all experienced the power of vitamin C when we have a common cold. Why? Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that supports the immune system. But it also has many more uses. It keeps our skin, ligaments, blood vessels and joints healthy. It can slow the degeneration of your eyes and is a cancer-blocker by fighting off free radicals. Sounds like some pretty good reasons to add more vitamin C to your life!
You can find vitamin C in many fruits such as:
- Raw cantaloupes
- Citrus fruits
- Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
Often times, there is just as much (if not more) vitamin C in certain vegetables. Vitamin C superstar veggies include:
- Red and green peppers
- Turnip greens and other leafy greens
- Winter squash
- Brussels sprouts
Now, vitamin C is also vital in the absorption of iron. Iron is an essential element of blood production. About 70 percent of your body’s iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood called hemoglobin and in muscle cells called myoglobin. Hemoglobin is essential for transferring oxygen in your blood from the lungs to the tissues. A lack of iron can cause extreme fatigue and iron-deficiency anemia. If this is a condition that you deal with, you can find iron-rich foods that, when combined with vitamin C foods, can benefit your low iron counts.
Iron-rich foods are:
- Grass-fed beef
- Black beans and lentils
- Dried fruit like prunes and apricots
- Dark chocolate
How can you combine both nutrients to ensure that you are metabolizing and absorbing their goodness? Why not add black beans to your next mango salsa? And then enjoy that salsa with some cauliflower rice and sauteed spinach! Foods high in sulfur, like onions and garlic, also help with iron uptake. So be sure to add them to the mix.
Vitamin C and Rutin
Vitamin C also works synergistically with rutin, a flavonoid, found in black tea, buckwheat, citrus fruits, and apple skins. When paired together, vitamin C and rutin can halt LDL oxidation. That’s great news if you’re at risk of cardiovascular disease. Together, they also help the body produce collagen. As you can see, the places you find rutin are also where you can find vitamin C. Nature will often put exactly what you need in each food to help with your body’s ability to use its nutrients. To boost this synergy, don’t peel your apple skins and enjoy your apple chopped in a spinach and walnut salad.
Avocados and Lycopene
Do you ever go out for Mexican food? Believe it or not, your guacamole and salsa appetizer could really benefit your health. You see, avocados can be considered superfoods and eaten daily. Why?
- High in healthy fats, daily consumption of avocados will lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL levels.
- Help regulate hormones associated with risk factors for diabetes and obesity.
- High in lutein, they protect eye health and preserve healthy looking skin and hair.
- The Journal of Nutrition and Cancer published the results of a study claiming that the phytochemicals in avocados are so powerful that they could prevent the use of chemotherapy in people with oral cancer!
- Fatty acids play an important role in regulating central nervous system functions, reproductive health, and your moods because they help balance hormones naturally.
Just this alone is a reason to add more avocado to your daily diet.
Now, you might have heard about the benefits of lycopene. Lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the nutrition world.
Found in tomatoes, it’s also responsible for the red stain that happens when you make tomato sauce. But the extra cleaning is worth the effort! Lycopene helps fight cancer, actually blocks damaging pesticides and additives from damaging your liver and brain, and has been used in studies to prevent or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s. And here’s the best part…. Avocados help enhance lycopene absorption. So eat your guacamole with salsa (check the sugar content) and enjoy an avocado and tomato wrap knowing that this is a super-duo combo!
Avocados and Carotenoids
Here’s another interesting fact. Avocados, when eaten with kale, boost the carotenoid content by 400%. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that are predominantly found in fruits and vegetables. Research shows that dietary carotenoids decrease the risk of diseases, particularly certain cancers of the skin and age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration. However, they need fats to be released from their current food to be then absorbed by the body. Avocados are just the type of fat to make this happen. Try adding kale to your next avocado dip. Or both taste delicious in a smoothie. Adding extra yellow and orange fruits like cantaloupe and banana will also boost your carotenoid content.
What are some other quick connections you can make to improve your nutrition?
Calcium and Vitamin D
Everyone knows that we need calcium for strong bones. However, calcium needs vitamin D to be properly absorbed by the body. This is where salmon can come into play. Salmon is actually a very high food source of vitamin D. Actually, most cold-water fish is high in vitamin D. That and mushrooms. Yes! Mushrooms! So next time you’re baking a delicious salmon dish (maybe you’d like to try this one: Salmon Veggie Pan) top it off with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for an extra calcium boost.
HCA Compounds and Marinades
There are some other things we do, naturally, that we may not even realize can enhance our nutrition. Summer steaks on the BBQ come to mind… Everyone loves a summer barbecue and the ease of preparing food on the grill. The unfortunate thing is that most people do not know that the black strips produced from grilling contain chemicals known as HCA compounds. These compounds, which studies can confirm, have been found to be carcinogenic. To lessen this effect, make sure that you are not charing your barbecue meats and vegetables on your grill. However, there is some relief to be found for you barbecuing fans. A number of studies found that yogurt, beer, wine, honey, certain herbs, garlic, fruits, and even olive oil lowered HCA compounds when used in marinades before grilling. In other words, the marinades that make the grilled food so yummy also protect the food and us. Now that is information we want to hear!
There is so much goodness in foods. And so often, food combinations naturally enhance each other for taste, texture and nutritional value. We hope this article has given you some new ideas on how to pair up your food. But don’t stress, you won’t be losing nutrition if you eat these foods alone. In fact, just eat a lot of plant-based foods, in different combinations and you’ll easily be leading the pack in terms of healthy living and longevity!
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