Dynamic Duos For Better Nutrition

By now, most of us know what foods are good for us. But did you know that certain food pairings provide more nutritional benefits and fight disease better than when you eat those same foods solo?

According to registered dietician Keri Glassman, it's not just about calories and getting energy -- it's about making the most of those calories for your all-around good health, healthy heart, good skin and mind. It's so important to eat a balanced diet; but by knowing what foods work best together, you're maximizing the benefits of those calories that you're taking in.

Even things that are high in fat - like nuts - are good for you especially if you're pairing them with other nutrients. Here are some examples:

Iron and Vitamin C: Healthy organs and immune system

Vitamin C helps maximize absorption of the non-heme (plant foods) iron, enabling your body to produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen to your major organs. This contributes to building up your immune system.

  • Iron can be found in iron-fortified cereal, spinach and edamame.
  • Vitamin C can be found in oranges, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries and tomatoes.

    Pairing suggestions:
    - Spinach salad with mandarin oranges and fresh squeezed lemon dressing
    - Iron-fortified cereal with strawberries on top
    - Pasta with tomato sauce and sautéed spinach

    Fat and Carotenoids: Cancer fighting

    Carotenoids are heart-protective antioxidants found in many colorful fruits and veggies. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene are carotenoids. Add a fat, such as olive oil, to your salad bowl to increase many cancer fighting agents. Eating fat and carotenoids together enhances the absorption of carotene, which prevent free radicals and enables to the body to function properly as well as being beneficial in fighting cancer and heart disease.

  • Healthy fats can be found in avocado, walnuts and olive oil.
  • Carotenoids can be found in tomatoes and red and yellow peppers.

    Pairing suggestions:
    - Tomato and avocado salad with olive oil
    - Cubed cantaloupe with crushed walnuts and yogurt
    - Red and yellow peppers, tomato with olive oil and vinegar

    Red Wine and Vitamin E: Healthy heart, fights cancer fighting

    A combination of resveratrol, found in red wine and vitamin E, may boost the antioxidant effects and cause dilation in arteries for healthy blood flow, as well as minimizing free-radical damage to the blood vessel lining; both of which are good for the heart and may inhibit the growth of certain cancers.

  • Vitamin E can be found in almonds, broccoli, spinach, sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut butter, mango and kiwi.

    Pairing suggestions:
    - Red wine sangria with mango and kiwi
    - Red wine with almonds
    - Red wine with spinach salad and sliced almonds with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing

    Green Tea and Vitamin C: Prevents cancer, heart attack, stroke

    Having vitamin C with green tea enables more of green tea's antioxidants to remain after simulated digestion. Vitamin C likely increases the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb; catechins, display health-promoting qualities and may be responsible for some of green tea's reported health benefits, like reduced risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke.

  • Vitamin C can be found in oranges, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries and tomatoes.

    Pairing suggestions:
    - Iced green tea with diced fruit
    - Hot green tea with toast and ½ fresh grapefruit

    Yogurt and Inulin: Healthy bones and digestion

    Inulin helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria found in yogurt and increases calcium absorption in the intestines. Many products, including yogurts, are adding inulin; however, you can consume it naturally in foods as well.

  • Inluin can be found in leeks, artichokes, asparagus, onions, garlic, bananas, wheat and rye.

    Pairing suggestions:
    - Plain yogurt with sliced banana and wheat germ
    - Plain yogurt with garlic, onions and leek as a vegetable dip