No one ultimate super food 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 iron + vitamin C

Why they work so well together: Your body needs iron to maintain energy and immunity. But while the body easily absorbs iron from meats, the type of iron in vegetables and legumes is harder to access. Vitamin C helps to break down this type of iron into parts that can be more readily absorbed into the body.

Ideas for pairing them up:

  • Greens + lemon juice: Hearty, healthful green leafy vegetables provide so many nutrients - fibre, calcium, and folate in addition to both iron and vitamin C. But you'll get an iron boost by drizzling lemon juice, a super C-source, onto a bed of greens.
  • Lentils + red bell peppers: Toss cooked lentils with raw red bells for a refreshing side salad, or add the pepper to a pureed lentil soup. The sharp, crisp, sweet flavour of red bell peppers brightens the nutty taste and dense texture of lentils - and the pepper's C will perk up your absorption of the legume's iron.
  • Oatmeal + blueberries: It's a breakfast of champions, since a half of a cup of dried oats provides 10% of your daily iron, and you'll soak up more iron if you add in vitamin-C-packed berries.

Where else you'll find iron and vitamin C: Iron is easier to find in - and more efficiently absorbed from - meat products, especially beef. But you can also get iron from leafy greens like Swiss chard and broccoli rabe or from tofu and other legumes, including kidney beans and lentils. Vitamin C abounds in fruits and vegetables of all sorts - from the most obvious (oranges and strawberries) to red bell peppers to hearts of palm and potatoes. And some foods have good helpings of both, such as many leafy greens, asparagus, bok-choi, and green cauliflower.

Amy Toffelmire