Did you know that some ingredients work synergistically to improve nutrient absorption? If you’re worried about getting enough of those essential vitamins and minerals, you’ll want to note down these simple and delicious nutrition hacks.
Food is not just about sustenance; it's an artful blend of flavours and nutrients. While individual ingredients have their unique qualities, some pairings create magic by enhancing both taste and nutritional value. Let’s take a look at three food pairings that not only elevate the flavour of your dishes but also boost their nutritional profile.
Turmeric and Black Pepper
Turmeric and black pepper are a dynamic duo with a long history in traditional medicine and culinary traditions. Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. But what you might not know is that curcumin has low bioavailability, meaning it's not easily absorbed by the body, and oftentimes we pee the stuff out. That's where black pepper comes in. Black pepper contains piperine, a natural compound that enhances the absorption of curcumin by up to 2000%. When combined, these two spices create a synergy that not only elevates the flavour of your dishes but also maximises the potential health benefits of curcumin. One popular way to enjoy this pairing is by making "Golden Milk." Simply heat milk (dairy or plant-based) with turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, and a touch of honey for a soothing and nutritious beverage.
Tomato and Olive Oil
The Greeks know what they’re doing – there’s a reason tomatoes and olive oil are a classic pairing, and it’s not just about the flavour. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants like lycopene, which has been linked to various health benefits, including heart health and reduced cancer risk. Olive oil, the extra-virgin variety, is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. So, is it any surprise that these two ingredients are a nutritional powerhouse? Plus, they work synergistically to boost each other’s benefits – the healthy fats in olive oil enhance the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in tomatoes, such as lycopene. To enjoy this pairing, whip up a Greek salad or go Italian with a simple caprese salad by layering ripe tomato slices with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Spinach and Lemon
Spinach and lemon make an unexpectedly delightful pairing that not only elevates the flavour of your greens but also enhances nutrient absorption. Spinach is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – spinach also contains compounds called oxalates that can inhibit the absorption of these nutrients. But that’s where lemon comes in – it’s rich in vitamin C, which can help increase the absorption of non-heme iron (the type of iron found in plant-based foods like spinach) in spite of those oxalates. When you squeeze fresh lemon juice over your spinach salad or sautéed spinach, you not only add a refreshing zing but also maximise the iron uptake from the greens. This tip is especially useful for the vegans and vegetarians out there!
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