By now, everyone knows that all foods are not created equally. Some foods are “superfoods,” which means that they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients. You’ll get more nutritional bang for your buck when you incorporate superfoods in your diet on a regular basis.
What if we told you that you can boost your nutrition even further by combining superfoods? It’s true—superfood combinations are more than the sum of their parts. This is called food synergy. “Food synergy is the concept that the non-random mixture of food constituents operates in concert for the life of the organism eaten and presumably for the life of the eater.” That is, instead of focusing on one or two nutrients you lack, you should try to combine superfoods for a better outcome.
When your overall diet pattern allows your food to work in concert with each other, you’ll get more out of each meal. Here are 11 tasty superfood combinations to try:
- Salmon and plain, nonfat yogurt: Salmon is a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, while plain yogurt is a smart choice for probiotics, calcium and other nutrients. Since the body can’t absorb vitamin D without calcium, this combination can help your body maximize each food’s benefits.
- Tomatoes and olive oil: Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene and phytochemicals, but they need fat to absorb properly. Adding olive oil is a great way to get the best of your tomato’s nutritional value.
- Green tea and lemon: Green tea is full of antioxidants, which attack disease-causing free radicals in the body. Adding lemon—which is packed with vitamin C—makes it easier for your body to release and absorb the antioxidants.
- Black beans and brown rice: Black beans aren’t a complete protein, even though they’re full of fiber. These beans need an amino acid that’s found in brown rice. Prepare this classic combo to ensure that you get plenty of plant-based protein in one dish.
- Citrus and any iron-rich food: Spinach and whole grains are packed with iron, but the body doesn’t use plant-based iron very well. Adding citrus to your salads or grain dishes helps the body digest and absorb plant-based iron content.
- A combination of dark green vegetables: Try eating your dark green, leafy vegetables together. Spinach and kale are full of iron and antioxidants, for example, and work together to help your body get the nutrients it needs. Adding a little olive oil will help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
- Garlic and fish: Fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D. Adding garlic helps your body take advantage of all the omega-3s, vitamins and protein available, and will boost your heart health even further.
- Tomatoes and broccoli: This combination is particularly good at fighting prostate cancer. Broccoli is loaded with phytochemicals like beta carotene, while tomatoes include heart-healthy lycopene. Together, these foods attack cancer-causing mechanisms two different ways.
- Oatmeal and blueberries: You can get superfoods at breakfast time, too—fix yourself a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries to boost your immune system and fight off disease. Oatmeal is full of fiber and phytochemicals that ward off disease, while blueberries are jam-packed with antioxidants. When you add vitamin-C-rich foods to oatmeal, it enhances the amount of nutrients you absorb.
- Raw cocoa, berry and nut truffles: Dessert can be healthy, too! Combining raw cocoa, berries, nuts and seeds can make your dessert a lot more nutritious than reaching for a bag of store-bought candy.
- Sardines and avocado: Here’s another fatty fish combo for you—try sardines and avocado on whole-grain toast to unlock the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Sardines and avocado work together to release and absorb plenty of fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.
All of these superfood combinations make it easier for your body to take advantage of the nutrients included. They’re all excellent food choices on their own, but together, they’ll take your health and nutrition to a whole new level.
Following this advice makes it easier for people who want to improve their immune system and overall health, without targeting specific nutrients. By adding more superfood combinations to your diet, you’ll get more out of your overall food patterns (food synergy), including better health and nutrient absorption. Try any of these 11 combinations, or come up with your own.