6 Healthy Food Combos to Supercharge (and Synergize!) Your Nutrition
Synergized Salads and Cancer-Fighting Veggies
The Superfood: Spinach, Tomatoes, or Carrots
The Sidekick: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Canola Oil
Synergize! Each of these superfoods are great on their own, but without a little "good fat," like the monounsaturated fatty acids found in extra-virgin olive oil, your body can't absorb the full nutrient cocktail they offer. The solution? Create a salad -- and don't skimp on the dressing. During a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, volunteers ate a salad combining spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes topped with Italian dressing containing 0, 6, or 28 grams of canola oil. Blood tests revealed that the highest-fat dressing offered the most absorption of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene, all heart-protective, antioxidant-rich carotenoids.
Make It Healthier: Pratt suggests creating your own homemade dressing in order to get the fat component you need without overloading on sodium. He combines extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ground pepper, Vegit or another salt substitute, and any other herbs or spices for flavor. But don't go overboard, he notes. "Use the dressing sparingly: Don't drench the greens."
The Superfood: Broccoli
The Sidekick: Tomatoes
Synergize! These two crisper drawer favorites are both perfectly nutritious on their own -- but they might be even better eaten together. Nutrient-dense broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber, while tomatoes pack in vitamin C and lycopene. Broccoli's glucosinolates and the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes make these foods both known cancer-fighters, too. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition furthered these foods' cancer-fighting properties, showing that eating a broccoli-tomato combination significantly suppresses prostate tumor growth.
Make It Healthier: Lead researcher John Erdman believes the food synergy he observed isn't limited to tomatoes and broccoli. "This interactivity is likely taking place in any diet high in a variety of plant foods -- fruit, vegetables, and whole grains," Erdman said. So follow his advice! Try multi-combos of foods, like tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and carrots in a salad drizzled with dressing -- you'll get the cancer-fighting benefits of tomatoes and broccoli, plus extra carotenoid absorption from all the veggies with the help of the dressing.
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