Pairing certain food together in the one meal can often enhance how easily your body absorbs the nutrients in these foods.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is rich in mono-unsaturated fats, the type of fat rich in the Mediterranean diet. Tomato is high in lycopene, a carotenoid phytochemical. Carotenoids are fat soluble compounds, meaning your body can only absorb it properly when eaten alongside a fat source.
Try this: caprese salad = sliced tomato + sliced bocconcini cheese + fresh basil leaves + a drizzle of EVOO
No wonder Indian cuisine almost always pairs turmeric with black pepper. Curcumin is the key chemical compound in turmeric and piperine the key active compound in black pepper.
Unfortunately the anti-inflammatory health benefits of turmeric are quite limited when consumed on its own as curcumin has very low levels of bioavailability. The good news is that teaming turmeric with black pepper increases the body’s absorption of curcumin by up to 2000% (Shoba etl al 1998)!
Try this: add an extra dash of turmeric and black pepper to your next curry or casserole
There are two main forms of iron; haem iron (found in animal products such as red meat) and non-haem iron (found in vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes and green leafy veg).
Haem iron is more readily absorbed by the body than non-haem iron, however by consuming a source of non-haem iron (i.e. spinach) with a source of vitamin C (i.e. lemon), you can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs.
Try this: add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to your next spinach salad
Just like lycopene in tomatoes, many vitamins and antioxidants found in fresh veggies are fat soluble. This means that when you think you’re doing the ‘right’ thing and eating that salad for lunch with that fat-free vinaigrette dressing your body isn’t actually absorbing as many of the nutrients as you would if you were eating that salad with a healthy fat source such as avocado.
Try this: add ¼ medium chopped avocado to your next salad or mash with some fresh lemon, garlic and coriander and use as a salad topper
Barbequing can be a very healthy cooking method, just like grilling. Unfortunately when meats are charred (which is often the case with a BBQ), there is the production of carcinogenic heterocyclic amine compounds.
The good news? Using rosemary in a marinade can minimise this process due to its high antioxidant compounds in the herb.
Try this: lamb marinade = 2 tbs EVOO + 1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary + a squeeze of lemon + a sprinkle of salt
Shoba et al (1998), ‘Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animal and human volunteers’, Planta medica, 64(4): 353-356.