August 16, 2021

By Erica Baty, RD

Ever wonder how to get the MOST from your food!?

We all know that fruits and veggies are pretty dang good for us right? But did you know that by pairing certain nutrients in the same meal we can actually maximize absorption and utilization of these nutrients!?

One of the most common and well known nutrient pairings is iron and vitamin C. Iron can be rather bound up in foods and vitamin C increases the solubility of iron in the small intestine helping you get MORE. Throwing some vitamin C powerhouses (bell pepper and orange) onto your iron-dense food (spinach salad) can help you maximize the iron in the spinach.

Here are a few other examples of nutrient pairs to keep in mind:

Vitamin D + Calcium

There’s a reason milk is usually fortified with Vitamin D. Good ole Vitamin D actually helps your bones absorb the calcium naturally found in cow’s milk. Eat foods that offer vitamin D like salmon, tuna, eggs or fortified foods like milk or orange juice at the same time as calcium-providing foods like broccoli, oranges, dairy or dried fruit.

Some examples, smoked salmon omelet with an orange or tuna sandwich and some dried figs!

Lycopene + Fat

Lycopene is an antioxidant, found in abundance in tomatoes and watermelon. Research shows that by adding some fat to tomatoes, lycopene absorption increases. So drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on your tomatoes or add an olive oil based dressing to your salad.

Turmeric + black pepper

It is relatively well known that turmeric is one of the most wildly powerful antioxidant spices. But did you know that black pepper makes the beneficial compounds in turmeric even more bioavailable? These two spices taste fabulous together which is perfect- try a spicy curry or a golden milk latte!

Fat + fat soluble vitamins

Fat-free dressings be GONE! Vegetables have a wonderful variety of nutrients including vitamin A, D, E & K. These are known as the fat-soluble vitamins (vs. water soluble vitamins like vitamins B & C) which means they are better absorbed in the presence of some fat- ideally a wonderfully heart-healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds or avocado.

Here’s an idea, drizzle sweet potatoes (vitamin A) with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and give them a roast.

Or throw some walnuts (vitamin E) and avocado (healthy fat) on your leafy green salad (vitamin K).

So, next time you are creating a meal, consider being intentional about adding a complementary nutrient to the foods you are eating! Cheers!