Power Food Pairings for Incredible Health

New research shows that by combining these nutritional superheroes together, you’ll pack an even bigger nutritional punch.

To lower your cancer risk

Reader’s Digest

Pair up: Apples & raspberries

If apples could speak, they would tell raspberries, “You complete me.” A study in the Journal of Nutrition determined that the anti­oxidant ellagic acid (found in raspberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and cranberries) enhanced the ability of quercetin (an antioxidant found in apples, grapes, onions, and buckwheat) to kill off cancerous cells. Food scientists have discovered thousands of such bioactive phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. “Researchers are now discovering that these chemicals often work better in pairs or groups, proving that supplements with single nutrients just can’t match the healing power of whole foods,” says Elaine Magee, a registered dietitian and the author of Food Synergy. Here are the healthy foods that are more nutritious than you realized.

Ready in 5: To make an antioxidant-rich dessert, combine diced apples, grapes, and raspberries, and top with pomegranate seeds and walnuts.

For a stronger heart

Reader’s Digest

Pair up: Soba noodles & broccoli

When “bad” LDL cholesterol particles are oxidized, they are more likely to become plaque in artery walls, leading to heart disease. Antioxidants, true to their name, help fight this process. German researchers discovered that the antioxidants rutin and vitamin C work synergistically to halt LDL oxidation. Rutin is in buckwheat (a Japanese staple found in the pasta and international-food aisles at grocery stores). And, of course, vitamin C is in many fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.

For an easy-to-pack lunch: Prepare a package of soba noodles according to directions and toss with 2 cooked and cubed skinless, boneless chicken breasts; 2 cups steamed broccoli florets; 2 chopped tomatoes; 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes. Store in fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For the energy to go all day

Reader’s Digest

Pair up: Onions & chickpeas

According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, sulfur compounds in onions, garlic, and leeks can help you absorb more iron and zinc from grains and legumes, including chickpeas. “Iron is involved in oxygen transport in the body, so an iron deficiency can cause fatigue and brain fog,” notes Bazilian. “Premenopausal women need to be diligent about getting iron in their diet due to blood loss through menstruation.”

Prep in 5, ready in 15: Make an energy-boosting soup: Sauté 1 diced onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves along with 2 tsp. vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium heat until onions are soft. Pour in 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth; then add one 15-oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1 diced carrot, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 tsp. dried sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes and garnish with fresh cilantro. Makes about 4 servings.

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