What Foods Should I Be Eating Together To Get The Most Health Benefits?
There are many answers to this question as there are different health benefits you can achieve from combining different foods.
Health benefits for food combining can include balancing your blood sugar, supporting healthy weight loss*, minimizing cravings, supporting iron absorption, supporting absorption of Vitamin A, D, E, & K, Calcium absorption and Healthy digestion.
What Food Combinations Support Healthy Weight Control/Loss, Control Cravings And Support Healthy Blood Sugar?
Pairing the right foods together can in fact achieve the above. When you support healthy blood sugar control with the foods you eat you will prevent highs and lows in blood sugar.
By doing this you are also controlling your appetite and potential for craving carbohydrates and sugar rich foods. In addition, when you keep your blood sugar controlled you may also support healthy weight control.
Food pairing or food combining is absolutely important for stable blood sugar levels. I always suggest whether it is a meal or mini meal (snack), that we should aim to balance our food pairing for optimal blood sugar control.
When we eat a carbohydrate (which essentially breaks down into sugar in the blood), we should pair that carbohydrate with protein, healthy fat, or even fiber.
By adding fiber or a macronutrient such as a healthy fat or protein you slow down the release of sugar into your blood stream when the body is breaking down carbohydrates into sugar or a sugar containing food.
- For example: it is more favorable to eat an apple with a handful of almonds than just an apple alone.
- It is more favorable to have a healthy fat such as avocado on a slice of toast as opposed to toast with jam.
Another great example is one many people fall victim to: oatmeal; we tend to think oatmeal is always a healthy breakfast but before you know it your oatmeal is a carbohydrate laden, sugar bowl: of oats, dried fruits, brown sugar and honey.
- Your blood sugar will certainly spike and then drop when you eat ALL carbs alone. Leaving you more hungry! So what you can do is add a protein to help balance out a portion controlled serving of oatmeal.
- You can add a vegetarian soy based protein on the side, an egg on the side, or add protein powder to the oatmeal and or nuts to the oatmeal to balance out the carbohydrate load.
Whenever you eat a healthy carbohydrate based food try to pair it with either a lean protein and/or healthy fat. Here are some examples:
- Oatmeal + almonds or (protein powder mixed in) (healthy carb with either healthy fat or lean protein)
- Apple + Almond butter (healthy carbohydrate + healthy fat with some protein)
- Slice of whole wheat toast + guacamole (healthy carbohydrate + health fat)
- Greek Yogurt + Berries (Source of lean protein + healthy carbohydrate)
- ½ whole wheat pita, roasted turkey + hummus (healthy carbohydrate + lean protein + protein/carb/fat)
What Foods Should You Eat Together To Optimize Iron Absorption?
If you are concerned you might not be getting enough iron or have low iron you should speak with your Doctor and Dietitian.
You can ask your Doctor about testing your Ferritin levels as well as your Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC), Serum Iron, and a Complete Blood Count (CBC).
It is important to know if you truly have an iron concern before you ever consider supplementing with or trying to enhance* iron absorption. Stick to the rule of thumb of “Learn your numbers first”.
This holds true to Iron and other nutritional considerations like Vitamin D.
We should always know our levels before trying to address them and working with a Dietitian can help support you.
When it comes to Iron whether it is iron found in foods or supplementation; you can enhance* iron absorption if you consume Vitamin C with it! This could look like
- Steak + kale salad with orange slices
- Tuna salad with red bell peppers and chopped onions over a bed of spinach
- Tofu with broccoli, onions and bell peppers (season to taste)
- Kale or Spinach salad, with roasted beets, add some dried fruit, and also some lemon juice and olive oil for dressing.
- Adding blueberries or strawberries to an arugula salad with lemon and olive oil dressing
You can also combine plant based iron sources with animal based iron sources. The animal based iron (heme iron), may support the non-heme iron from plant foods in its iron absorption.
What Food Should You Eat Together To Optimize The Absorption Of Vitamin A, D, E, & K?
Vitamins A, D, E & K are fat soluble vitamins. So, if you are looking for optimal absorption of one of these important vitamins make sure you are consuming them with healthy fats.
Supplementing with Vitamin D has become more mainstream as the medical field has learned just how important Vitamin D is to our health and also in prevention of disease.
At the same time mainstream medicine is starting to understand just how difficult (almost impossible) for the average American to attain enough Vitamin D from their diet alone.
More blood testing is being done and many Americans are discovering they have either an insufficiency or deficiency of Vitamin D; that requires supplementation.
It is important to know that when you are supplementing with Vitamin D, you need to take this supplement with a healthy fat or a meal or snack that contains some healthy fat.
That might mean adding avocado slices, olive oil, nuts, seeds, or nut butter to a snack or meal when you take your Vitamin D. If you have not been doing this and your Vitamin D levels don’t seem to be optimal this could be the culprit.
Vitamin K (to support healthy blood clotting and bone health as well). Vitamin K is fat soluble as noted above; so eating food rich in Vitamin K with a healthy fat is a great way to support Vitamin K absorption.
oKale salad with almonds on top and olive oil based dressing
oBrussel Sprouts or Spinach with Olive oil
oCucumber with Tahini dip
What Foods Should You Combine To Optimize Your Bone Health?
You have probably heard it before, calcium and Vitamin D go together. If you aren’t taking a supplement are you combining the two with foods? Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption and supports strong bones.
Consider these power combos:
- Salmon over a large bed of spinach
- Egg omelet with sautéed kale
What Foods Can You Combine To Optimize Their Antioxidant Power?
One of my favorite antioxidants as both a seasoning and a supplement is from TURMERIC root; it is a constituent of the turmeric root known as Curcumin! In supplement form you can get an easily absorbed trademarked Curcumin.
If turmeric is eaten as a spice in our foods it may not be as bioavailable or well absorbed if it is not combined and consumed with black pepper and fat (respectively).
Consuming Curcumin with black pepper has been shown to support the bioavailability of Curcumin. It is not necessary for absorption but it is helpful!
Piperine is a compound found in black pepper and is supportive in boosting curcumin bioavailability by getting in the way of its breakdown in the liver and during digestion.
Curcumin found in Turmeric is studied for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also ideal to consume turmeric with fat or with a fat containing meal for optimal absorption.
See More: 10 tips on Eating Healthy You Must Know
Focusing on an overall healthy diet and nutrition intake is the first goal; while you are doing so, implementing these food combinations can help you get the most from your nutrition.
Especially when it comes to macronutrient combining and food pairing, which has the capacity to affect your overall health and wellbeing?
As opposed to trying to implement all of these suggestions, consider implementing one at a time so they become habit.
Here’s to your best health!
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: Shutterstock.com