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9 food combinations that offer incredible health benefits

A tip in collaboration with Metro.ca Comments

Some food combinations can provide you with great health benefits. Here are a few examples!

Tomatoes and olive oil

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene. In addition to their beautiful red colour, tomatoes can also

  • Prevent heart disease
  • Prevent certain types of cancer (prostate, breast, lung and bladder)

However, the body has trouble absorbing this powerful antioxidant if the tomato is raw. So how do you get the nutrients it contains? Studies have shown that you simply need to cook the tomato and combine it with oil. Olive oil is a great choice because it results in maximum absorption of lycopene. If you’re preparing tomato sauce and add extra virgin olive oil (which is good for your health), you’ll be able to get the most out of tomatoes. Results: you’ll enjoy a delicious dish while giving your body a health boost!

In Quebec, we consume a lot of tomato juice, tomato sauce and tomato puree. We generally get our lycopene from one of these three products. However, many other foods contain lycopene, such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricot and pink guavas. But not all red fruits or vegetables contain lycopene. Red pepper for instance does not.

See the recipe for Tomato Radicchio Crostini (Antipasto)


Spinach and strawberries

In foods, iron is found in two forms: heme and non-heme.

  • Heme iron: in foods from animal sources (red meat, poultry, seafood…)
  • Non-heme iron: in foods from plant sources (dried fruit, molasses, whole grains, legumes, green vegetables, nuts, grains…).

Most iron we consume is non-heme. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t absorb this type of iron very well. However, vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid, makes it easier for your body to absorb non-heme iron. It’s therefore important to combine foods that contain non-heme iron with a source of vitamin C.

Here are few examples to absorb more non-heme iron:

  • Strawberry and spinach salad
  • Cereals and berries
  • Pasta and tomato sauce
  • Kale and red pepper sauté
  • Oatmeal and blueberries
  • Leafy greens and lemon juice

You only need 60 mg of vitamin C – the amount contained in half a cup of orange juice – to nearly double your iron absorption. Think of integrating at least one or two sources of vitamin C into your meals – especially those that don’t contain meat.

See the recipe for Strawberry and Spinach Salad


Rice and beans

Combining rice with legumes such as kidney beans is a great way for vegans and vegetarians to get the protein and amino acids their bodies need without having to eat foods from animal sources.

Here are a few recipes that will allow you to get the most out of this delicious combination:

  • Chana masala on a bed of basmati rice
  • Kidney or white beans with jerk seasoning on a bed of brown or short grain rice
  • Adzuki beans on a bed of teriyaki rice
  • Black-eyed peas on a bed of long grain brown rice

See the recipe for Mexican Rice


A delicious cheese omelette

Calcium is essential to keeping your bones healthy. But it’s hard for the body to absorb if it’s not paired with vitamin D. So think of eating sources of these nutrients together! For instance, when you’re cooking an omelette, sprinkle your favourite cheese (cheddar, Swiss…) on it. The vitamin D in the eggs will help you absorb the calcium in the cheese. Discover our recipe for a delicious vegetable cheese omelette.

See the recipe for Vegetable Cheese Omelette


Rosemary roast beef

Prepare a rosemary marinade: mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic and fine herbs, including rosemary. Pour it over your meat. The rosemary, rich in antioxidants including rosmarinic acid will neutralize the harmful heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that can form when you cook steak at a high temperature. Discover a recipe for French style roast with rosemary.

See the recipe for French Style Roast with Rosemary


Carrots and chicken

Vitamin A is good for your eyes, skin and immune system. Your body can efficiently transform beta-carotene into vitamin A if it is accompanied by zinc. So if you are cooking chicken, add some carrots to your dish: the zinc in the chicken will help the beta-carotene in the carrots become vitamin A.

See the recipe for Chicken and Vegetable BBQ Bundies


Broccoli and fish

Sulforaphane can be found in broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage. It helps slow down the growth of cancerous cells. When combined with selenium (which can be found in fish for example), its effect is ten times greater. A great reason to combine your fish with vegetables from the cabbage family, which are rich in sulforaphane. Your health will thank you!

See the recipe for Salmon Broccoli Quiche


Health tip

A winning duo: garlic and onions. These two foods are great for your heart.

The perfect combination: nuts and broccoli. Sprinkle some crushed walnuts over your broccoli and you’ll get your fill of vitamin C thanks to the broccoli and vitamin E thanks to the nuts!

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