When you’re trying to eat healthy, pause as you’re meal planning, and take a look at your ingredient combinations – there may be a better way to get the most nutrients out of your food.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we ‘clinically’ break down which types of foods go best together, and how they have a powerful effect on our health.
If you’re adding turmeric to your dishes, that’s great – its active ingredient curcumin is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. But did you know that if you pair turmeric with black pepper, it increases the absorbability of curcumin by 2,000 per cent? Researchers discovered this fact and published a January 2015 study on it in the US-based journal Cancer Research and Treatment.
The point is – some nutrients are just better together. Here are a few more to know about, based on an October 2023 report in National Geographic, so that you can make the most out of the food you eat:
1. Vitamin C + Iron
The human body needs iron for proper growth and development – it’s required in the production of haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all the cells in the body. But while the human body easily breaks down the iron in meats, poultry and seafood, the iron in plants is a little more difficult to extricate. Enter vitamin C, which is known for helping liberate iron from plant-based foods and making it easier to absorb. So, how do you combine vitamin C with iron? You will find 25mg of vitamin C in a quarter cup of broccoli, which can double the absorption of iron within the same vegetable. You can also pair iron-fortified cereal with strawberries or kiwis, or make a spinach salad with black beans, capsicum and tomato slices.
2. Calcium + Vitamin D + Vitamin K
It’s quite commonly known that calcium and vitamin D are important for the building and maintaining of strong bones. But while vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from your food, it’s vitamin K that helps lay the calcium down, in the bones. Since vitamin K works on directing calcium to where it belongs, it also keeps it from accumulating in the arteries and causing blood clots. Here’s how you can brings this terrific trio to your plate. You could make an omelette with eggs, spinach, mushrooms, milk and cheese, or a smoothie with yoghurt, fortified oat milk, blueberries and a spoon of tahini.
3. Potassium + Magnesium + Calcium
When used together, these three minerals work wonders: they lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and help with electrolyte balance, which is important for the proper functioning of our nervous system. The three minerals also help regulate heart rhythm and fluid balance in the body. A 2023 study in the journal PLOS One found that adults over 40 and older, who consume sufficient calcium, potassium and magnesium, build excellent defenses against developing glaucoma. Here’s how to take them together: You can make a bowl of oatmeal with milk, and top it off with pumpkin and chia seeds, and banana slices. Or if you’re having lentil soup, add chopped spinach and grate some cheese on it.