Healthy Food Combos-Boost Your Nutrition Power

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By Michelle Gelok, RD • November 28th, 2010 • 10404 Views

Healthy Food Combos-Boost Your Nutrition Power

One plus one equals three?  While the equation might not hold up when it comes to math, research suggests it may accurately describe the health benefits of some food combinations.   

The concept of synergy, a whole being greater than the sum of its parts, is starting to make headlines when it comes to food and nutrition.  Food synergy is the latest buzzword to hit the nutrition world and is the idea that two healthy foods eaten together deliver a more powerful nutrition punch than when eaten alone. 


Salad dressing + mixed greens

Choosing lower fat foods is an easy way to trim extra calories from your diet, but based on research findings from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition you may want to opt for full fat products when it comes to salad dressing. 

It seems full fat salad dressing can boost the body’s ability to absorb disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids found in many dark green leafy vegetables.  Researchers from Iowa State University in the U.S measured the absorption of carotenoids in seven participants after eating salad with a fat-free, reduced fat or full fat dressing.  Researchers found that participants absorbed the most carotenoids after eating salad drizzled with full fat dressing.  The reason?  Carotenoids are fat-soluble; therefore eating them with some fat makes it easier for the body to absorb them. 

When it comes to choosing a full fat salad dressing, you’re best bet is a vinaigrette that contains heart healthy canola or olive oil, opposed to creamy type dressings.  To boost your intake of carotenoids, choose dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, Romaine lettuce and collard greens as the base of your salad.


Rice + beans

There’s a good reason why rice and beans are the staple foods of so many countries around the world.  It turns out that rice and beans, when served together, form a complete protein usually found only in animal products. 

Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.  If eaten alone, rice and beans are considered incomplete proteins since they’re missing some of these essential amino acids.  But together, this dynamic duo forms a high quality protein that is especially useful for vegans and vegetarians. 

What’s more, rice and beans are an affordable source of protein that is high in fibre and a healthy low fat alternative to meat, poultry and milk.   Choose brown rice for the most health benefits.


Lemon +...

Michelle Gelok, RD

Location:  Abu Dhabi, AE

Michelle Gelok is a Canadian Registered Dietitian currently based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Prior to her relocation to Abu Dhabi, Michelle graduated as a Registered Dietitian upon completing the Dietetic Internship Program at University Health...