5 healthy food combinations to supercharge your diet

5 healthy food combinations to supercharge your diet

We all know we should be eating a healthy, balanced diet to ensure our bodies get all the nutrients we need.  Now recent studies have shown that when we pair certain foods and drinks together they can provide added nutrition and health benefits, and taste great too!

1. Brown rice with onions & garlic

Onions and garlic contain compounds which have been shown to make it easier for the body to absorb zinc and iron from wholegrain foods like brown rice.

Why is it important? Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and helps with the healing of wounds.

Recipe Inspiration:  Make a brown rice, red onion and avocado salad. Heat 1 tbsp of olive in a small frying pan, 1 finely chopped red onion and 1 crushed clove of garlic and sauté for 4-5 mins. Add 80g brown basmati rice and 200ml chicken or vegetable stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 mins adding more stock if necessary. Allow to cool then add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes and a diced avocado and 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives.

2. 100% pure orange juice with breakfast cereal

Although foods like breakfast cereals, beans pulses and some green vegetables such as spinich contain iron, it's not as easily absorbed by the body as iron in meat. Studies have shown that vitimin C increases the absobtion of iron from plant foods i.e. non-haem iron between 1.5 to 10 times when consumed together. This is why a glass of 100% orange juice, which provides the vitamin C, and porridge oats are a source of iron, make a great combination.

Why is it important? Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the formatino of healthy red blood cells. Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows 46% of girls (11 - 18 years) and 23% of women (19 - 64 years) have a low iron intake. A low level of iron in the blood is related to tiredness and fatigue.

Recipe inspiration: For a different breakfast option or if you are following a dairy free diet, why not soak porridge oats in 100% pure orange juice overnight and add dairy free plain yoghurt and fresh berries to give your breakfast some zing in the morning!

 3. Eggs with vegetables

A study carried out at Purdue University in Indiana reveaked that eating eggs with vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and spinich, will boost absorbtion of carotenoids from the vegetables. In the study the men in the groups who ate the salad and egg combo absorbed between 3 - 9 times more carotenoids from the salad by itself.

Why is it important? Carotenoids found in vegetables including betcarotene, lyycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to be linked to the health benefits associated with a diet high in fruits, vegetables and their juices.

Recipe inspiration: The classic salad nicoise provides a perfect combination of vegetables (geen beans), boiled eggs and tuna, alternatively boost the vegetable contribution of egg sandwiches by adding a generous handful of watercress of rocket.

4. Salad leaves & oil based salad dressing

A good salad dressing can enhance the taste of a salad, but did you know scientists at Purdue University have confirmed that fat in the diet can play an important rolenin assisting the absorbtion of other benefitial components of the diet? The researchers discovered that the oil in salad dressing can help the body to absorb phytochemicals (naturally occuring chemicals found in plants) from an accompanying salad.

Why is this important? emerging science suggests that phytochemicals may be related to the health benefits associated with diets high in fruits, vegetables and their juices but just becuase they are present in a certain food, doesn't mean that they are potimaally absorbed. Many phytochemicals, like some vitimins, are fat soluble, which are however high in alories so be careful how much you add, irrespective of the potential benefits.

Recipe Inspirtaion: Although most supermarkets offer a good selection of salad dressings, it's quick and easy to make your own. use extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil or a flavoured olive oil such as lemon, chilli and garlic which adds a kick to dressings. try making an orange and poppy seed salad dressing. wisk together 75ml of 100% pure orange juice, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp poppy seed and seasoning to taste.

 5. Avocado & tomatoes

Researchers from Ohio state University found that when volenteers ate tomatoes and avocadoes during the same meal, they absorved 44 times more lycopene from the tomatoes compared with when they ate just tomatoes.

Why is this important? Lycopene, which is the phytochemical that gives tomatoes their characteristic red colour may have important health benefits.

Recipe inspiration: Make a healthy tomato and avocado salsa to serve with fish or chicken. Dice the flesh from 2 ripe avocadoes, mix with a handful of sliced baby cherry tomatoes, some finely diced red onion, died fresh chilli and some chopped fresh corriander (optional). The came mixture can also be piled on to toasted ciabatta or French bread to make bruschetta.


  • There's more healthy living advice  in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.