Pair: Yoghurt and honey
To: Keep your bones strong
When you eat honey alongside a serve of yoghurt, you’ll absorb up to 33 per cent more of the dairy food’s calcium. Researchers say honey contains a unique combination of carbohydrates, including glucose and one called raffinose, which may alter the large intestine’s population of gut microflora to make it more efficient at absorbing calcium.
Pair: Eggs and spinach
To: Help maintain your eye sight
Egg yolks and spinach are both rich sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that play a key role in protecting the health of the eye’s macula. But when you eat them together, you’ll absorb up to eight times the amount of the spinach’s carotenoids. Because carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients, they’re much more easily absorbed when they’re digested at the same time as a healthy fat, like the unsaturated fatty acids eggs contain.
Pair: Tofu and red capsicum
To: Lower your risk of heart attack
The tofu delivers a hit of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that can mimic the action of oestrogen, and the capsicum is a rich source of vitamin C. On their own, phytoestrogens inhibit the oxidation of LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, but the effect is significantly greater when they’re eaten with a source of vitamin C. That’s good news for your cardiovascular health, because when LDL becomes oxidised it contributes to the hardening of the arteries, one of the biggest risk factors for heart attack.
Pair: Onion and brown rice
To: Improve your immunity
Brown rice is a good plant source of zinc, a nutrient that’s essential for a healthy immune system, while onions contain compounds called organosulfurs. On their own, organosulfurs have been shown to help prevent cancer, but they also make a couple of the nutrients that brown rice is rich in, including zinc, more ‘available’ to your digestive system. When you eat brown rice and onion together, you’ll absorb up to 50 per cent more of the rice’s zinc as a result.
Pair: Sardines and cooked tomatoes
To: Lower your risk of heart disease
Sardines and cooked tomatoes each contain different types of heart-healthy nutrients – omega-3 fatty acids from the fish, and the antioxidant lycopene, in cooked tomatoes. But eat them together and the protective effect for your heart is bigger. Women who drank tomato juice in combination with omega-3s for two weeks as part of a study had lower levels of cardiovascular disease markers than the women who drank the juice on its own. Why? One explanation is the omega-3 fatty acids make the lycopene more digestible.