Did you know you can combine certain foods in order to increase the nutritional value of each? The naturally occurring chemical components in certain foods are intensified and made more bioavailable when they are properly combined. Here are seven simple ways to get more bang from your nutritional buck:
1. According to research done by the University of Illinois, combining tomatoes and broccoli powerfully boosts the cancer fighting compounds in each. Cooking tomatoes as well as combining them with a healthy fat makes their carotenoids and other important nutrients easier for your body to use. So try a pasta sauce cooked with olive oil and lightly steamed or sauteed broccoli.
2. Salads are one of the very best things you can include in your daily diet. They are loaded with antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals. However, if you are using fat free dressings, you are preventing yourself from getting all the benefit you could. Simply using an oil and vinegar dressing, or combining your salad with any healthy fat source, you exponentially increase the nutritional content. Use olive, walnut, flax, pumpkin seed, macadamia or avocado oil with your vinegar dressing or sprinkle a handful of nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, whichever you like), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) or avocado slices in and you are good to go.
3. If you want to get the most from iron rich foods like spinach, beets, lentils, eggs, chicken or turkey breast, lean sirloin steak and sardines, be sure to pair them with a vitamin C rich food. The vitamin C increases your body’s ability to absorb the iron. These foods tend to go together well, so it’s pretty easy to do. Consider a squeeze of lemon or lime on your spinach, beets or in your lentil soup; have a baked potato or red and green bell peppers with your steak or poultry; pair scrambled eggs or sardines with salsa. Let your creativity take over and be adventurous.
4. Vegetables are a treasure trove of phytochemicals, which are much more effectively released for use in your body when you include a source of healthy fat. Cook your vegetables gently and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or flax oil.
5. While grilling and broiling protein are not the healthiest ways to prepare them, we all do it occasionally. To reduce the cancer causing compounds grilling and broiling create, marinate your food using spices and herbs, which are loaded with antioxidants. Use rosemary or marjoram with lamb; sage and thyme on chicken; parsley, cilantro or fennel on shrimp. Let your imagination (and taste buds!) run wild.
6. Continuing with the same theme, make it a habit to use herbs and spices liberally in all your meals. Studies are proving daily how effective certain spices are in fighting disease as well as keeping you healthy. A half teaspoon of cinnamon several times a day can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. You can sprinkle it in your oatmeal or protein smoothie and even put a cinnamon stick in your coffee or tea. Spice up an egg white omelet with dill and fennel, cumin and sage or turmeric and paprika. Turmeric is being studied for its ability to fight inflammation. Your meals will be more delicious and nutritious.
7. Limit fluids immediately before and with meals. In order for your body to digest your meals thoroughly and efficiently, you must not dilute your stomach’s hydrochloric acid or the digestive enzymes your pancreas produces. If you do, it can cause all kinds of digestive problems from heartburn and indigestion to flatulence and gas to reflux. When you constantly prevent the proper digestion of your meals in this way, you can become nutrient deficient and malnourished. You can be obese and malnourished and many people are.
We should strive to eat the freshest, most nutrient-dense whole foods, combining them in the most effective way possible. In doing so, we can consume fewer calories while enhancing our intake of nutrients simply and easily.