Linking Foods to Boost Their Nutritional Clout



February’s newsletter from “Nutrition WOW”, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, started me thinking about how you can pair foods to boost their nutritional value. Sometimes we do this automatically; tomatoes & olive oil for example. Let’s explore this idea beginning with “Nutrition WOW’s” list.


Food “Power Couples” from Nutrition WOW  “Hey lovers! Just as your sweetheart brings out the best in you, certain foods are healthier when paired with the right partner.” 

Meet my favorite Food “Power Couples”:

  • Tea + Lemon
    Why we’re a power couple: Citrus makes healthy tea antioxidants, called catechins, more absorbable.
  • Pasta + Balsamic Vinegar
    Why we’re a power couple: Vinegar slows carb digestion to lower post-meal blood sugar & increase fullness.
  • Yogurt + Almonds
    Why we’re a power couple: Almonds are a prebiotic that strengthen the good probiotic bugs in yogurt.
  • Spinach + Strawberries
    Why we’re a power couple: Vitamin C in berries helps the body absorb iron in spinach.
  • Tomatoes + Olive Oil
    Why we’re a power couple: Olive oil increases the absorption of heart-smart lycopene in tomatoes.
  • Turmeric + Black Pepper
    Why we’re a power couple: Black pepper increases the power of turmeric by over 2000%.
    *Try GOLDEN MILK: A mood-boosting, energy-enhancing, pain-reducing wonder drink. This is a wonderful drink to have in the late afternoon.
  • Rosemary + Grilled Meat
    Why we’re a power couple: Rosemary’s natural antioxidant content decreases carcinogens from forming during cooking.
  • Eggs + Salad
    Why we’re a power couple: Eggs increase the absorption of cancer-fighting carotenoids in raw vegetables. 

Now that you get the idea, let’s look at more “power couples”.

From EveryDayHealth: 7 Foods You Should Always Eat Together By Debbie Strong “Certain foods just belong together — and no, we’re not talking about peanut butter and jelly (although it’s definitely delicious!). There are foods that when combined, not only taste great, but help you absorb nutrients more effectively.” 

This slideshow adds even more foods to link together & why ~Check out the slide show for the complete list.

  • Yogurt & Bananas ~protein + potassium~ Turns out, your go-to portable breakfast may also make the perfect post-workout snack. Combining the potassium found in bananas with high protein foods like yogurt (especially Greek yogurt) helps build muscle and replenish amino acids that are depleted during exercise. A great snack for those long hours in treatment!
  • Carrots & Hummus ~healthy carbs + protein~ Looking for a way to beat the afternoon munchies? “Choosing snacks that combine protein and healthy carbs can help to curb hunger and give you an extra boost of energy,” says Sakimura. Another portable snack.
  • Avocado with Salsa ~healthy fats and carotenoids~ Good news if you love going out for Mexican: Salsa with avocado is a nutritional power duo. Bright and colorful veggies in salsa are rich in carotenoids, disease-fighting plant pigments that help protect you from cancer and heart disease. Adding healthy fats, like those found in avocados, can maximize protective benefits. Had this last night. Yum!
  • Raw Veggies and Eggs ~carotenoids and egg yolks~ Next time you’re at the salad bar, add a few hardboiled eggs to your bowl. Recent research out of Purdue University presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015 suggests that the protein-packed topping may help increase the nutritive properties of raw vegetables. Now that eggs “are back”.. 🙂

Even the Readers Digest got into this subject. 3 foods that are healthier eaten together 

  • Pair pasta with red wine vinegar ~ Red wine vinegar (like other types of vinegar) contains acetic acid, which research has shown reduces the spike in blood sugar that occurs after consuming starchy foods high in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and bread.
  • Pair tempeh with leeks ~ In 2010, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto showed that the joint consumption of inulin (a prebiotic substance found in leeks, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and chicory) with soy protein and soy isoflavones can reduce LDL ( “bad”) cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL ( “good”) cholesterol. I roast the tempeh & leeks together. 
  • Pair chicken with grapefruit ~ Poultry, beef, pork and fish are all top dietary sources of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This “power plant” of our body’s cells plays a vital role in the production of the energy we use for everything from digesting food to running on a treadmill. The coenzyme may also help control blood pressure in those with hypertension. A 2010 Japanese study discovered that eating grapefruit allows up to 50 percent higher cellular absorption of CoQ10 (grapefruit appears to inhibit a protein in the membrane of cells that limits CoQ10 uptake).

Click on the link above to see a recipe after each pairing. 

I found this pairing in an article from India; no argument with this one!  FOODS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS EAT TOGETHER  

  • Apples and Dark chocolate…Why: When nibbled together, dark chocolate and apples can boost heart health. Apple skin contains the flavonoid quercetin, which acts like an anti-inflammatory in the body. Meanwhile, the cocoa in dark chocolate is rich in catechins, an antioxidant that helps prevent the hardening of arteries.Try it: Dip apple slices into melted chocolate. You can use milk chocolate, but the darker variety contains up to six times more of the health-boosting catechins.

Remember, these “couples” are boosting the nutritional value. Pairs like bacon & eggs; ham & cheese; macaroni & cheese; & peanut butter & jelly, don’t count. 🙂

I am on vacation right now, enjoying the warmer weather & family. My next Blog Post will be on March 20th. Until then…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources

  • Food Synergy: Nutrients That Work Better Together  “Why eating a variety of whole foods is your best nutritional bet
  • Dynamic Dietary Duos  by Dr. Oz on These nutrients pack a much greater punch in tandem than solo.
  • The Science behind Foodpairing® Foodpairing is a scientific method to identify which foods & drinks go well together. To understand why ingredients match it’s important to know how humans perceive flavour. Not the food pairing we are discussing but interesting none the less.