Food Combinations for Best Nutrient Absorption

January 8, 2012

This is a guest post by Betsy.

Some things are just better together like peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, cake and ice-cream. Aside from pairing foods complement each other in taste and flavor, there are nutrients that can be combined together for best results. While our bodies can take in nutrition when a food is eaten by itself, the absorption can be increased if combined with another nutrient. Fortunately, there are many such combinations of food that can be eaten together to improve the nutrient absorption. Some of the combinations are listed below.

Iron and vitamin C:

Vitamin C improves the absorption of the iron, especially the iron from plant sources. This is really beneficial for vegetarians or people who eat only small amounts of meat. When you pair a good source of vitamin C with a good source of iron you are guaranteeing almost 100 percent absorption of the iron. For example, sprinkle lemon juice on your spinach salad or add some tomatoes to your salad. Have a side of red bell pepper when eating lentils.

Calcium and vitamin D:

There is a good reason why milk is fortified with Vitamin D. They make a great team. Vitamin D can easily be made by body if it is exposed to sunshine. However, more and more cases of Vitamin D deficiency are reported each year as people are exposed less and less to sunshine. Calcium is not well absorbed in the body with vitamin D deficiency. Combining a good source of vitamin D such as eggs, with a good source of calcium such as cheese will ensure absorption of calcium.

Vitamin A, D, E, K and fat:

These vitamins are fat soluble vitamins. So having them in combination with a good fat will help trap these vitamins and enhance their absorption. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on greens (high in Vitamin K) or dip baby carrots (high in beta carotene) in an oil based dressing to absorb the fat soluble vitamins. Foods like avocados and nuts have both fat and fat soluble vitamins packed in one. So you can enjoy them as is without combining it with anything.

Acidic foods and meat:

Acidic foods such as pineapple or tomatoes are good tenderizers for meat products. Tenderized meat release protein and iron better thus improving the chances of absorption. Tenderized meats are easy to digest and the protein is released better for absorption. Have a fruity side dish or a salad with your meat entrée and enjoy the flavor while reaping the benefits.

Chocolate and wine:

Treat yourself to some dark chocolate and red wine. These foods are high in polyphenols which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are beneficial for the body in many ways. Antioxidants reduce the risk of degenerative disorders like heart disease and cancer. So next time you want to pamper yourself, get some dark chocolate to go with the red wine.

Proteins and Non-starchy vegetables:

Protein is one of the macronutrients. Macronutrients provide energy for the functioning of the body. If proteins are combined with starches, it inhibits the digestive process as proteins require acidic medium and carbohydrates require alkaline medium. When they are combined together it creates a neutral medium that does not digest either food properly leading to indigestion, bloating and other GI issues. Combine proteins with non starchy vegetables like green, carrots, broccoli and squash to enhance the absorption of protein and get maximum benefit from eating the meat.

Try these combinations to enhance the absorption of the nutrients and get the most out of your meal. Get most out of your meal choices by following these simple rules.

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