Nutrition Pairing: 7 Food And Nutrient Pairings That Can Make Your Meals Healthier

Dietitian Swati Bathwal explains the right mix of nutrients to maximise the nutritional value of any meal

Swati Bathwal
Written by: Swati BathwalPublished at: Jun 30, 2021Updated at: Jun 30, 2021
Nutrition Pairing: 7 Food And Nutrient Pairings That Can Make Your Meals Healthier

We have heard health benefits of growing organic foods, we have also heard benefits of eating raw and natural fruits and vegetables and various other ways to make the most of the nutrients from the given meal. But as we progress through generations, we have changed the way we grow or produce our food and by using multiple skills in food preparation and cooking, we have forgotten our ancient ways of combining the right nutrients. In this article, I will explain to you which nutrients when combined together will improve our health.

1# Iron and Milk 

Iron concentration for vegetarian foods are comparatively low when compared with non-vegetarian foods. Vegetarian sources of iron are nuts and seeds, lentils and pulses, green leafy vegetables. If you consume these foods with milk, yoghurt or any calcium rich meals, it will reduce the absorption of iron. Even if you use tea, tea contains tannins which will reduce iron absorption. A typical example is consuming milk tea with nuts or having green leafy vegetables and yoghurt. This is not the ideal combination of nutrients. Pair iron rich foods with vitamin c together for example: Nuts and lemon water or sprinkle lemon juice or coriander on lentils or pulses, this will increase iron absorption.


Also Read: Incorporate These 4 Monsoon Fruits In Your Diet For Immunity Building

2# Vitamin A,D,E, K and Fats

Choosing the right type of fat like groundnut oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil is essential in fat soluble vitamin absorption and combining it with fat soluble vitamins increases the availability of these vitamins. In fact, many people are vitamin D deficient these days because they choose bad fat in their diet. Refined and processed vegetable oils are volatile and they interfere with the absorption of vitamin D. Some examples are: carrot soup with extra virgin olive oil, sarson saag with ghee, milk with vitamin d, carrots with hummus dip or hung curd dip.

3# Turmeric and Black Pepper

We all know the health benefits of turmeric. Time and time we have learnt how it can increase our immunity, prevent ageing and prevent many health issues including depression and complications of cancer. Turmeric has a compound called curcumin which gives it the yellow colour. Curcumin doesn't get absorbed into our gut easily, so using black pepper is essential in increasing its availability. Black pepper has a compound called pepperine, just adding a pinch of black pepper to turmeric can increase curcumin absorption by 200%.


4# Folic acid and Vitamin B12

Vitamin B works better when combined in the correct way, rather than taken alone. A combination of folic acid and vitamin B12 is essential to form red blood cells. Folic acid also works well when it is combined with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to maintain our homocysteine levels. A perfect example is eggs and spinach or eggs and lentils or chicken and spinach or nutritional yeast in spinach soup.

5# Vitamin D and Magnesium

Vitamin D also increases intestinal absorption of magnesium. Both of these vitamins are important for bone health. Magnesium is a cofactor for vitamin D synthesis. As vitamin D helps in the absorption of magnesium in the gut, magnesium helps in the conversion of active form of vitamin D in the body. Ideally, combine vitamin D rich meals with magnesium for example, sprinkle cashews, pumpkin seeds on scrambled eggs or bake fish or have fish in almond puree or have mushroom soup and sprinkle them with chopped nuts.

6# Carbohydrates + Protein

Combining carbohydrates with protein is essential for getting complete protein and energy but recent study has opened an important insight on moods, cravings and depression and a need for combining these 2 macronutrients together. Our brain needs carbohydrates for tryptophan ( an amino acid which helps in production of serotonin) to pass through our brain. Our brain barrier needs carbohydrates otherwise we will feel irritable and low. That is why when women experience PMS or when we feel low, depressed we crave for carbohydrates. But this goes for complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, millers, brown rice and excludes combining protein with processed carbohydrates like white pasta, or brown sugar etc. For example: Daal and brown rice or chicken and brown rice is a good combination, daal soup with sprinkle of pumpkin seeds is an excellent combination.

Also Read: What Are Complex Carbohydrates And Why Should You Have More Of It For Weight Loss?

7# Chia seeds and Flaxseeds

Chia seeds and flaxseeds are rich sources of omega 3, they contain fiber and all essential minerals required by the body. In fact, in research it shows that when you consume these seeds it can decrease your appetite which means it reduces our hunger and helps us lose weight. Ideally, you would consume them as it is but if you want to increase the absorption of these nutrients grind them into a powder. Flaxseeds have an outer layer called lignan which doesn’t get absorbed through our gut walls, hence powder it. When we grind chia seeds, our body absorbs more omega 3. So, ideally consume them in the powdered form.

So, next time when you prepare your favourite dish, try to follow my above nutrient pairing combination as this will enhance your nutrient absorption.

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