“The next time you want a truly bone-healthy snack that offers maximum nutritional value, try combining a calcium-rich, low-fat dairy product with nuts, oatmeal, fortified cereal or other foods that contain magnesium.”
Planning a meal should involve more than just considering tastes, because when planning is done correctly, you can significantly increase the nutritional value of your overall diet. This is due in large part to the fact that the nutrients found in the foods we eat often do their jobs more efficiently when they can interact with other nutrients. This is called synergy.
The easiest way to define synergy is to say that with synergy, 1 + 1 = 6 or more. In the case of many antioxidants, the equation is far greater. Perhaps as high as 1 + 1 = 20! For example, calcium and vitamin D are both good for bone health on their own, but when they interact with each other in the body, they offer even greater protection. When magnesium is added, further synergy is created and your bone health can improve greatly over a scenario when the nutrients are ingested separately. Furthermore, it is now known that supplementing just with large amounts of calcium alone can actually be detrimental, yet magnesium and calcium taken together support healthy bones.
The next time you want a truly bone-healthy snack that offers maximum nutritional value, try combining a calcium-rich, low-fat dairy product with nuts, oatmeal, fortified cereal or other foods that contain magnesium. Afterward, spend a few minutes out in the sun to ensure your body is able to produce the vitamin D needed to complete the synergistic relationship.
Spices are full of antioxidants capable of working together in the body to improve their abilities to quench free radicals. Properly pairing these spices can have massive synergistic effects. When an antioxidant quenches a free radical, it will either harmlessly decompose or it will borrow an electron from another antioxidant to replenish itself. If it does the latter, the antioxidant will be able to neutralize yet another free radical. Groups of antioxidants work together, lending each other electrons so they can continue to fight free radical attacks. These groups are known as networks, and the way they work together makes them exceptionally good at neutralizing free radicals in order to protect the body from many of the effects we associate with aging. This is one of the major reasons that the groups of antioxidants known as OPCs and polyphenols are so good for antioxidant protection – because of their multiple chain lengths, they inherently form an antioxidant network.
When cooking, use a wide variety of spices in your dishes to give your body a vast supply of antioxidant networks. Pairing these spice combinations with fresh fruits and vegetables will further boost antioxidant support. One of the best spices to use liberally is turmeric. It is relatively tasteless and is known as a major component in the Indian diet that promotes many aspects of good health.
Many vegans and vegetarians know the importance of pairing foods because they need to do this in order to consume all the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis in the body. While the protein in lean meats provides the full spectrum of amino acids required by the body to build and repair muscle tissue, there is no singular plant source for these amino acids. However, by combining foods from two or more incomplete proteins, a complete protein can be created. The amino acids that may be missing from one type of food can be compensated by pairing with another food that contains that missing amino acid. When these foods are eaten in combination at the same meal, you are giving your body all the essential amino acids it requires. Two of these combinations pair certain grains with legumes and high-quality (grass-fed) dairy with seeds and grains.
These are just a few examples of how to boost nutrition by combining complementary foods. The best and easiest way to ensure that your diet contains nutrition boosting food pairings is to simply eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lean sources of protein such as chicken and fish, dairy products (if you are not sensitive to them), and whole grains (if you are not overweight). Learning to pair your foods properly will introduce you to a whole new world of flavours and a whole new level of nutritional support.