Easy ways to optimize nutrient absorption!
Foods working Synergistically
By: Amanda Zimpfer (our amazing Rawr Employee)
As you are about to take the time to fuel your body and mind with food have you ever stopped to ask the question, “Is it possible to increase nutrient absorption by pairing certain foods together in a single meal?”. No, I’m not referring to the top food duo of all time, aka the peanut butter and jelly sandwich according the Food Network, I’m talking more along the lines of a Whole Food Plant Based Lifestyle (WFPBL). The human body benefits from so many food combinations that provide the body with many benefits such as, better absorption of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Let’s take a dive into this realm of how foods work synergistically. Your body and mind will thank you later, trust me!
Vitamin C-rich foods + Iron food sources = Increase in Iron absorption
- Squeeze lemon or orange juice on leafy greens (such as a kale or spinach salad)
- Beta-carotene in yellow, red, and orange foods such as bell peppers or tomatoes also aids in iron absorption. So go ahead and get wild with your salad. The possibilities are endless
Allium foods (such as garlic and onions) + Grains/Legumes = Increase in Iron and Zinc absorption
- Adding garlic to hummus enhances the zinc absorption from the chickpeas and tahini
Tomatoes + Avocado = Lycopene
- Lycopene: A carotenoid in which provides pigments of color such as red in fruits and vegetables. For an example, tomatoes.
- When lycopene is combined with healthy fats such as avocado, the bioavailability increases.
- This powerful antioxidant includes many health benefits such as sun protection, improved heart health, and lower risk for certain types of cancers.
Turmeric + Black Pepper = Increase in absorption of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric)
- It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant! Science has shown that it can help alleviate symptoms of joint pain such as arthritis.
Vitamin D Fat soluble (sunshine vitamin) + Calcium rich foods = Increase in calcium absorption
- Fortified soy milk or orange juice, collard greens, broccoli, and dried figs are all sources of calcium
- Fortified foods such as non-dairy milks and juices can also contain vitamin D. Unfortunately, the best way to get your Vitamin D intake is from the sun. However, since we don’t all live in the appropriate climates to do so you can supplement. Please consult your doctor before doing so! Excess of vitamin D can cause harm to the human body!
Vitamin B6 rich foods + Magnesium rich foods = Increase absorption in Magnesium
- Foods rich in Vitamin B6 such as chickpeas (garbanzo beans) assist in the absorption of magnesium in magnesium rich foods such as spinach.
Mixed fruit = Increase in anti-oxidant activity
Mind blown am I right? I know for some this may seem like a lot of info being thrown at you but trust me, slowly incorporating these foods together within your lifestyle will be easy. Practice makes perfect! Below I have put together an example of a “What I eat in Day” meals with recipes that are easy, straight to the point, hassle free, and might I add delicious. Also, all these meals put together incorporate many of the food duos listed above. Feel free to play around and explore your palate.
Breakfast: Green Tropics Smoothie
Serving size: One
- 2 cups frozen chopped Dino kale
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1/2 Tbsp turmeric
- Fresh cracked pepper
- 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp Moon Balance by YourSuper (optional)
- 1 cup of fresh or jarred pineapple juice (make sure if packaged that the only ingredient is pineapples)
Blend all the ingredients in a strong blender like a Blendtec. My go to toppings of choice is a heaping spoonful of cashew butter, a diced kiwi, handful of goji berries, Go Raw granola/cereal.
Lunch: Avocado Toast
Serving Size: One
- 2 slices of Low Sodium Eziekiel Bread
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 slices of tomato
- Vegan Mayo (optional)
- Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning
- Balsamic Vinegar
Toast your 2 slices of bread to your liking. Add a thin layer of mayo if using. Mash the avocado on the toast next. Drizzle sriracha and smear it in. Then sprinkle on the Everything but the Bagel seasoning. Place your slices of tomatoes on each piece of toast. Apply another sprinkle of the seasoning followed by a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!
Dinner: Chickpeas + Quinoa + Greens = Nutrient Dense Goodness
Serving Size: One + leftovers
- 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas OR 1 can
- Seasoned with maple syrup, sriracha, garlic powder, and smoked paprika
- 5 oz package of Spinach Sautéed
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- Good Foods Tzatziki Sauce (optional)
- 1 cup boiled red & yellow potatoes
- Place canned or fresh cooked chickpeas in a pot with the added seasonings to your liking and simmer on low until ready to plate
- Cook quinoa according to package OR boil 2 cups of filtered water and then add in the 1 cup dry quinoa stir until well combined. Place lid on pot and turn the burner down to low for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes take pot off of burner and let set for another 10 minutes and then remove the lid and stir. Plate when ready.
- While the quinoa is cooking. Rinse 3-4 potatoes, then dice potatoes and place in a pot of water deep enough to cover the potatoes. Set burner to a boil but be careful that your pot doesn’t boil over! If it looks like it might, slightly lower the temp on the burner. Cook until fork tender.
- Sauté the spinach with a splash of water in a pan until wilted. Should only take a few minutes.
- Once everything is ready go ahead and plate up! I ran out of spinach here in this picture so I went with candied Brussel sprouts.
- Davis, B., & Melina, V. (2014). Becoming Vegan: The complete reference to plant-based nutrition. Book Publishing.
- Bulsiewicz, W. (2021). Fiber fueled: The plant based gut health program for losing weight, restoring your health, and optimizing your microbiome. Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.