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Food Pairings for Optimal Health Benefits

foodFood.  One of life’s simple pleasures, yet at the same time such a powerful foundation for our health.  The varied tastes, textures, aromas, and combinations – it never gets boring!  Combine the shared enjoyment of food with family and friends and you can understand how our lives are meant to be tied so strongly to it.  We know how important real, pure, unprocessed food is to our bodies and that eating a diet with organic meat, veggies, fruits, and nuts is amazing for us, but we can up the ante even more when we understand the value of food pairings.  When two foods combine together to create a whole that is great than the sum of their individual parts, it’s called food synergy.  Certain foods, when eaten together, complement each other so as to allow greater bioavailablity of their importnant nutrients.  Below is a list of some of the more powerful food synergies currently known to science.

Green Tea + Lemon

Green Tea contains catechins (a type of antioxidant).  The Vitamin C found in lemon helps to make catechin more bioavailable.

Apples + Cranberries

Both of these fruits contain a wide variety of antioxidants, including quercetin and anthocyanidins.  When eaten together, research has shown that their antioxidant activity is significantly higher than when they are eaten alone.

Fish + Broccoli

Selenium, a trace element that plays a critical role in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection, is found in high quantities in certain fish.  Sulforaphane, a powerful disease fighting compound, is found in broccoli.  When selenium and sulforaphane are combined together they have been found to be 13 times more effecting at slowing cancer cell growth than when consumed on their own!

Eggs + Cheese 

We all know how good calcium is for our bones and that dairy is an excellent source of it.  But to really maximize the absorption of calcium our body needs Vitamin D which is naturally occurring in egg yolks!  To get the most Vitamin D, look for pastured eggs, as those are found to have higher levels of Vitamin D than eggs from hens raised in confinement.

Salmon + Red Wine

In addition to promoting good circulation, the polyphenols found in grapes also help our bodies absorb more the omega-3s in fish.

Spinach + Lemon

To list all of the wonderful compounds found in spinach would be a post of its own!  We’ll focus on the iron for the sake of the lemon 😉  Iron’s main functions are to help your blood cells carry oxygen to your tissues, help your cells produce energy for daily functioning, and well as help to maintain overall health.  When found in a food that doesn’t enable it to be bound to a protein (as in the case of spinach), it is harder for your body to absorb iron.  An easy peasy fix is to combine spinach with lemon, or other source of Vitamin C.  When you eat a meal that contains both nutrients the Vitamin C modifies the iron into a form that is more bioavialable.

Dandelions + Anything!

Bitter foods, of which Dandelion is a star, stimulate the liver to produce bile which is an important part of optimal digestion. Bile emulsifies fats and renders nutrients — especially fat-soluble ones such as vitamins A, D, E and K — more available.  Eating them before a meal, especially one heavy in meat or other fat, preps your body to absorb all of the goodies found within.    In between meals, dandelion has been shown to moderate both hunger and blood sugar.  Instead of tossing those weeds, eat em’!

Whole Grain Bread + Peanut Butter

There are 20 amino acids, the building blocks of protein, that we cannot survive without.  Nine of these are considered essential owing to the fact that our bodies cannot produce them on their own.  Few non-meat foods contain all necessary amino acids.  Combining certain foods together, such as peanut butter and whole grains, can provide you with all nine of the essentials that help to build bones, muscles and hormones.

Turmeric + Black Pepper

Oh Curcumin, what an amazing thing you are!  Shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities with the potential to fight against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses, it’s obvious that we would all be better served if we added more of this into our diets!  Known for it’s yellow color, turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, and when we do the simple task of combining turmeric with black pepper we are able to absorb 1,000 times more curcumin that we would have been able to otherwise.

Garlic + Onions

If you come to my home for a meal you can pretty much count on the fact that you will find garlic and onions somewhere in the mix!  Pretty much daily around dinner time the aroma of these two being cooked together is wafting around our neighborhood.  My personal philosophy is that you simply can never have too much garlic!  Or onions!  Both of these staples contain organosulfur compounds and are more powerful when combined than when alone.  Together, they help to keep blood vessels flexible and healthy, as well as helping to remove plaque from arteries.


  1. This is a great article. I love how you mentioned that amino acids are the building blocks of protein because it’s so true. Keep giving us the good info!

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