Fancy yourself a foodie? Well even if you know your rainbow chard from your Tuscan kale, we don’t blame you if the term bioavailability leaves you stumped.
So, what is bioavailability – we hear you ask? Put simply, it’s a nutritional principle that says certain foods require the addition of a second ingredient (or technique) to make its nutrients fully accessible to the body. Or, as the experts would say, to be made bioavailable.
Still unclear? We’ve come across some impressive bioavailability buddies in our research, and thought we’d count down 12 of them for you here, so you can jump on the new buzzword with us:
- Drizzle your yoghurt with oil. Yep, it’s an unexpected food combo, but this idea comes from something called the Budwig Protocol, a study showing the potent anti-cancer effects of pairing sulphur-rich proteins like yoghurt or cottage cheese with highly unsaturated fatty acids like flaxseed oil. Pretty impressive stuff.
- Add heat to your greens. One study found broccoli is most nutritious when it is lightly steamed. In fact this is true for most greens – lightly steaming reduces the natural goitrogenic properties in them.
- Cook your lentils with kombu. The amino acids in seaweed help soften beans and makes them more digestible.
- Make a veggie soup. One study found that green beans, celery and carrots actually increase in nutritional value after cooking.
- Drizzle your spag bol with olive oil. Good fats + cooked tomatoes = a nutritional powerhouse. The fats increase the bioavailability of tomato’s most potent antioxidant – lycopene.
- Add black pepper to your curries. Piperine in black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin, the active component in the wonder food turmeric.
- Add lemon juice to your kale. Vitamin C from the lemon makes plant-based iron more absorbable. So if you sauté your greens or chuck them into a green smoothie, remember to add a squeeze of citrus.
- Cook your veggies in coconut oil. And add oil to your salads. We’ve been harping on about this for yonks. Eating fats with veggies increases the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K.
- Sprout your legumes and activate your nuts. This increases the nutrients and also makes them easier to digest. Check out our tell-all bluffer’s guide to sprouts.
- Ferment. Doing so increases the vitamins A and C in your meal and will help with the digestion of your food.
- Marinate your roast in kiwifruit. Yeah, a weird one! Kiwifruit contains the natural digestive enzymes protease and papain. Letting your steak sit with some kiwi slices starts to digest the proteins in the meat and tenderises it before eating, making it easier to digest.
- Use rosemary on your BBQ. Grilling activates cancer-causing compounds. But rosemary contains the antioxidants rosmarinic acid, which has been shown to reduce these compounds by up to 80 per cent! You can also try marinating your BBQ meat in beer!
Do you know more bioavailability hacks that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments below.
We originally published this post in January 2015. We updated it in July 2017.