Powerful Food Combinations For Better Health

Enhance your health and nutrient absorption with these powerful food combinations. From spinach and lemon to turmeric and black pepper, learn the best combinations to transform your health.

By URLife Team
16 Jun 2023

Certain foods work better together not just because they taste good, but also because they amplify the benefits of one another, making them the perfect duos to add to your meals While the idea of pairing foods is not new and has been practised in Ayurveda, it is a concept that many are becoming interested in now. Historically, Ayurveda recognised that different foods have different energies, tastes, and effects on digestion, and sought to use that for better health. For example, in Indian cuisine, spicy dishes that can sometimes cause inflammation in the digestive system are balanced by adding cooling herbs. Ayurveda also explains that when certain foods are combined, their effects on the body can change. For instance, cooking potatoes and beans with ghee and black pepper can reduce their gaseous effects. Similarly, buttermilk becomes a digestive elixir when combined with spices like ginger and cumin. So, by understanding food synergies, we can create meals that are not only delicious but also support our digestion and overall well-being.


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By understanding the synergistic effects of various food combinations, we can maximise the absorption of essential nutrients and promote overall well-being. In this article, we will explore some powerful food combinations that can enhance nutrient absorption and enhance your nutritional intake.


1. Spinach and Lemon

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that combining iron-rich foods like spinach with vitamin C-rich foods like lemon can boost the absorption of iron in the body. Iron from plant-based sources, known as non-heme iron, is not as easily absorbed compared to heme iron found in animal products. However, consuming vitamin C alongside non-heme iron enhances its absorption. Studies have shown that the presence of vitamin C aids in the conversion of non-heme iron into a more bioavailable form that the body can absorb efficiently. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over your spinach salad or add it to your sautéed spinach for a delightful flavour that boosts your iron absorption.


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2. Tomatoes and Olive Oil

A study published in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research has indicated that combining tomatoes and olive oil can enhance the absorption of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes. Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed effectively. Several studies have demonstrated that the addition of olive oil to tomato-based dishes significantly increases lycopene absorption compared to consuming tomatoes alone. The healthy fats in olive oil aid in the absorption of lycopene and other fat-soluble vitamins present in tomatoes, including vitamins A, E, and K.


3. Turmeric and Black Pepper

Numerous studies have investigated the combination of turmeric and black pepper to enhance the absorption of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but it has low bioavailability when consumed alone. A study published in Planta Medica found that piperine, a compound found in black pepper, can significantly improve curcumin absorption. Also, the same study has reported that the addition of black pepper extract or piperine to curcumin supplements or turmeric-spiced meals can enhance curcumin's absorption by up to 2,000 per cent. This powerful combination has been widely studied and acknowledged for its potential health benefits.


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4. Lentils and Whole Grains

Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has shown that combining lentils and whole grains can provide a complete protein source. Individually, both lentils and grains lack certain essential amino acids, but when combined, they complement each other, forming a complete protein source. This research has been especially important for vegetarians and vegans who rely on plant-based protein sources. Additionally, this combination offers a balanced mix of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Fibre aids in digestion and promotes satiety, while the vitamins and minerals in lentils and whole grains contribute to overall health.


5. Yoghurt and Berries

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated the benefits of combining yoghurt and berries to enhance nutrient absorption. Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein, while berries are packed with antioxidants and fibre. Consuming vitamin C-rich berries such as strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries alongside calcium-rich yoghurt can aid in calcium absorption. The presence of vitamin C in berries enhances the utilisation of calcium in the body, maximising its absorption and utilisation. Enjoy a bowl of yoghurt topped with fresh berries or blend them together for a refreshing smoothie.


Related story: 6 Ingredients For Fibre-Rich Smoothies


6. Beans and Bell Peppers

A 2021 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that combining beans, such as black beans or kidney beans, with bell peppers creates a winning combination that maximises iron absorption. Beans are a rich source of non-heme iron, while bell peppers are high in vitamin C. The vitamin C content in bell peppers helps convert non-heme iron into a more absorbable form, improving its uptake in the body. Consider adding bell peppers to your bean-based soups, salads, or stir-fries for a delicious and nutritious boost.


7. Salmon and Leafy Greens

Salmon is well-known for being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health and brain function. To enhance the absorption of these beneficial fats, pair salmon with leafy greens like kale or spinach. Leafy greens are rich in vitamin K, which aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including omega-3 fatty acids. Enjoy a grilled salmon fillet on a bed of sautéed leafy greens for a nutrient-packed meal.


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8. Sweet Potatoes and Avocado

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, while avocados are loaded with healthy fats. Combining these two ingredients promotes the absorption of beta-carotene, as it is a fat-soluble nutrient. The presence of healthy fats from avocados helps the body convert beta-carotene into vitamin A more effectively. Try topping baked sweet potatoes with mashed avocado for a satisfying and nutrient-rich side dish.


9. Broccoli and Mustard

A 2012 study by Molecular Nutrition & Food Research journal discusses the role of sulforaphane in health promotion. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including sulforaphane. Mustard, particularly the brown or black varieties, contains an enzyme called myrosinase that activates sulforaphane. When broccoli and mustard are consumed together, the myrosinase in mustard enhances the absorption of sulforaphane and its associated health benefits. Add a touch of mustard seeds to your roasted or steamed broccoli to take advantage of this powerful combination.


10. Eggs and Whole Grain Toast

Eggs are a complete protein source containing essential amino acids, while whole-grain toast provides complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre. When you pair eggs with whole-grain toast, you create a balanced meal that provides sustained energy and promotes nutrient absorption. The combination of protein and fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full for longer. Enjoy a classic breakfast of scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast for a nutritious start to your day.


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Understanding the power of food combinations can help us maximise nutrient absorption and optimise our overall nutritional intake. By incorporating these powerful food combinations, including spinach and lemon, tomatoes and olive oil, turmeric, and black pepper, lentils and whole grains, yoghurt and berries, as well as beans and bell peppers, salmon and leafy greens, sweet potatoes and avocado, broccoli and mustard, and eggs and whole grain toast, we can enhance the bioavailability of essential nutrients and support our health and well-being. Embrace the synergy of these combinations in your daily meals to unlock the full potential of the foods you consume and nourish your body for optimal health.


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It's possible to be deficient in certain nutrients without realising them, which can have a negative impact on our health. To assess your health and to identify any deficiencies, it's important to undergo the UR.Life Health Risk Assessment. By understanding your unique nutritional needs, you can take proactive steps to overcome these deficiencies. At UR.Life, our Health Risk Assessment seeks to inform you of your current health and provide targeted strategies to overcome any lifestyle diseases or nutritional deficiencies. Our expert nutritionists will work with you to create a tailored plan that includes nutrient-rich foods and supplements, ensuring you meet your body's requirements. Prioritise your health and take the first step towards optimal nutrition by scheduling a health risk assessment and embarking on a journey towards a healthier you.

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