Move over Kim and Kanye. Make room for these power couples that when paired help your body absorb their nutrients better than eating each of them alone. To maximize the health benefits you’re getting from your food, try these superfood duos.
Tomatoes & Olive Oil: Reduce Stroke Risk
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant (another carotenoid, in fact) found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. A 2012 study published in the journal Neurology found that men with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood were 55 percent less likely to suffer from stroke than those with low levels of blood lycopene.
But don’t just eat them plain! Fat-soluble lycopene nourishes the body more when paired with a heart-healthy oil such as olive oil. Cooking tomatoes boosts the antioxidant benefits by releasing even more lycopene.
For a tasty appetizer, roast grape tomatoes tossed in olive oil and your choice of spices for about 20 minutes. Serve on slices of a fresh whole wheat baguette.
Green Tea & Black Pepper: Boost Weight Loss
Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, second only to water. Green tea is well-known for its many health benefits, including the ability to whittle your waist due to the presence of a potent plant-derived compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG, for short). However, during the digestive process, EGCG is broken down rapidly. A Rutgers study found that adding black pepper to the mix slowed the breakdown of EGCG, so it stuck around longer to do its job.
To supercharge weight loss, grind some spicy black pepper onto your salad at lunch and serve alongside a cup of freshly-brewed hot or iced green tea.
Oatmeal & Strawberries: More Energy
Chromium is an essential mineral that plays a role in blood sugar regulation and converting the food you eat into the energy you need to tackle your workday and your workout. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website, as many of 90 percent of American diets are low in chromium. Those most likely to be deficient? The elderly, pregnant women, people with excess sugar in their diet, and those who do a lot of strenuous exercise.
Oats (as well as other whole-grain cereals) are a good source of chromium. Studies show that a healthy dose of vitamin C helps your body absorb more chromium than when taken alone. Slice some C-rich strawberries into your morning bowl of oatmeal to enhance chromium’s energy-boosting effects and boost your immune system in one delicious bite.
Eggs & Spinach: Better Vision
Environmental factors such as exposure to UV light from the sun can damage proteins in the eye, which lead to formation of cataracts (buildups of protein in the lens of the eye that cause vision to become cloudy). Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids that are important for healthy eyes and help decrease your risk of cataract formation.
Eggs not only supply another serving of these vision-enhancing carotenoids, but the yolk provides a source of healthy fat to increase your body’s ability to absorb more of these nutrients.
Instead of your regular Eggs Benedict for brunch, try Eggs Florentine or simply throw some spinach into your next whole-egg scramble.
Coffee & Cinnamon: Rev Metabolism
As you get older, metabolic rate begins to decline. Health professionals believe this is due to the fact that muscle loss tends to increase with age, making it more difficult to burn off calories. Numerous studies have confirmed that not only can a cup of coffee help you stay awake, it can also speed up your metabolism which in turn can lead to fat loss.
For an extra boost, add some spicy cinnamon to your cup the next time you brew a pot of joe. Studies report that cinnamon also boosts metabolism, supports the digestive process, and helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Almond Butter & Bananas: Build Muscle
Protein is an essential nutrient that helps keep your muscles, bones, and organs in working order. Protein-packed snacks help build muscle and keep energy levels stable in between meals.
If you’re looking for a snack that fits the bill to have on-hand post-workout, almond butter is a good choice. To maximize muscle-building efficiency, slice up half a banana to eat with your almond butter. The complex carbs from the banana will give you the energy you need right away, while the protein works to help your body recover and build muscle.
Super Food Tip: Eat a Rainbow
Don’t just stop with these power couples! Fruits and vegetables of all colors contain plant compounds known as phytonutrients. Each color represents a different type of nutrient. To optimize their health-promoting benefits, eat a rainbow of foods every day.
By Karen Morse