No one ultimate superfood can take all the nutritional glory. True nourishment comes from a blending and combination of nutrients. And sometimes when certain foods work together, they create a nutritional result that is even greater than the sum of its parts. Try these synergistic food pairings to help your body absorb more nutrients:
Pair up carotenoids + "good" fats
Why they work so well together: Fats help our bodies to break down the strong walls of vegetables and fruits. Once these are broken down, we can get access to carotenoids, plant pigments with antioxidant potential to protect us against cancer and age-related eye diseases.
Ideas for pairing up carotenoids and "good" fats: To maximize carotenoids, chop, puree, or cut up veggies and fruits. And keep in mind that you only need about 3 to 5 grams of fat to help your body absorb the carotenoids.
- Tomato + olive oil: Chop up a tomato. Toss it into a pan to sauté with olive oil. The oil, with its monounsaturated fat content, boosts absorption of the tomato's lycopene - a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their colour and is an antioxidant. The chopping and heating of the tomatoes will make the lycopene even more available to be absorbed into your body.
- Spring salad mix + avocado: Arugula, watercress, and radicchio are just a few of the amazingly nutritious greens featured in spring salad mixes. Slice avocado onto your salad to give a boost to the greens' lutein, a carotenoid that may protect against age-related eye disease.
- Cooked greens + sesame tofu: Sauté the carotenoid-filled green of your choice - spinach, kale, collards, etc. - and infuse it with the good fats from firm tofu stir-fried in sesame oil.
Where else you'll find these carotenoids and "good" fats: Carotenoids give many orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables their colour. Look for carrots, red bell pepper, nectarines, tangerines, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelons, and cantaloupe. Most greens will also provide a healthy serving of carotenoids. Fats should always be of the "fitter" variety - the mono- and polyunsaturated fats found in salmon, nuts and seeds, avocado, tofu, and omega 3-enriched products, like eggs.