Powerful Food Combinations
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Greatist--a health and fitness resource for the young, savvy, and social. They also happen to be one of the few sites that lists all of their research sources. (brings me back to my grad school days) For more information, visit Greatist here.
Looking to get the most bang out of the proverbial food buck? While a balanced diet is key to overall well-being, combining certain foods at mealtime -- and avoiding some other combos -- can actually increase the body's ability to absorb key nutrients. We've rounded up some of the most common do's and don'ts when it comes to food combining.
Mix and Match -- Your Action Plan
• DO: Pair vitamin C and iron. Some of the best sources of iron include red meat, poultry, and certain types of fish (good news for the carnivores out there). But spinach, fortified cereals, and other plant-based foods can also provide a healthy dose of the mineral (called non-heme iron). Pairing foods rich in vitamin C with non-heme iron sources helps increase the body's ability to absorb the mineral. Iron deficiencies are especially common among vegetarians, but for all those salad aficionados, planning meals to include both vitamin C and iron can help prevent complications like anemia.
• DON'T: Pair coffee, tea, and calcium with iron. While combining with vitamin C can help the body absorb more iron from foods, pairing drinks like coffee and tea and foods high in calcium with iron can have the opposite effect. Adding calcium-rich dairy to a meal (even in the form of cheese on a hamburger, for example) can reduce iron absorption by up to 60 percent! Likewise, tannins found in coffee and tea can decrease non-heme iron absorption, so think twice before pairing that iced latte with steamed spinach (doesn't even sound that appetizing, huh?).
• DO: Pair calcium with vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are vital to maintaining healthy bones, and matching the two can increase the effectiveness of both. Most Americans are actually deficient in vitamin D, though foods like egg yolks, fish, and sun-ripened mushrooms are fantastic sources that can promote calcium absorption in the body's digestive system.