Many of us turn to whole, unprocessed foods to ensure we’re getting enough vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients. However, there’s a way to make already healthy foods even better for you. The secret? Combine two good-for-you foods, and their nutritional benefits work together, creating one vitamin-packed, antioxidant-enriched superfood. Ready to bring out the best in your healthy foods? Here are seven pairings that can provide you with amazing benefits, including weight loss, heart health, and an improved immune system.
1. Beet Greens and Chickpeas
Beet greens are packed with magnesium, a mineral that is key for a mellow and happy mood. In fact, according to MindBodyGreen, magnesium helps you sleep better, relaxes your nervous system, builds bigger and stronger muscles, and improves your flexibility. In short, your body needs magnesium to function properly. So when you combine the magnesium in beet greens with the heavy dose of B6 in chickpeas, you’ve got a recipe for awesome health benefits. Rodale News writes that the B6 works with the magnesium, allowing your body to absorb as much magnesium as it can. The benefit here? Eating beet greens and chickpeas together will give you a natural mood boost.
If you’re ready to jump on the beet green and chickpea bandwagon, look for local, organic beet greens at your supermarket or a farmer’s market. Instead of opting for canned chickpeas, which can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, Rodale News suggests soaking and cooking dried, organic chickpeas for the best results.
2. Green Tea and Lemon
Lemon helps preserve the amazing antioxidants that are found in green tea, ensuring your body can use them all. “Just a splash of lemon contains enough vitamin C to help reduce the breakdown of catechins in the digestive system,” Jennifer McDaniel, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Prevention.
What’s so great about green tea? Plenty! It is rich in catechins, an antioxidant that fights and may even prevent cell damage, per Web MD. This super healthy drink has also been shown to improve your blood flow, lower your cholesterol, and can help prevent several heart-related problems, including high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Its benefits don’t stop there, either. Web MD writes that a Swiss study showed that people who drank tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brain, and it’s also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
See why it’s important for your body to absorb all of green tea’s amazing antioxidants? To create the perfect cup of green tea, make sure you don’t add green tea to boiling water (it’s bad for catechins). Be sure to add lemon, so your body can easily absorb the catechins, and avoid dairy while sipping (it makes it harder for your body to absorb antioxidants).
3. Bread and Vinegar
Fear not, carb lovers! There is a way you can still eat bread, pasta, and potatoes without packing on the pounds. Family Circle writes that by sprinkling carbs with a little vinegar, it can actually make losing weight easier. Here’s how: “In most instances, when we eat high-carb foods like bread, the amount of glucose in our blood rises rapidly. But very quickly it plummets, triggering feelings of hunger that cause us to eat even more,” Carol S. Johnston, PhD, RD, told Family Circle. “The good news is that vinegar moderates that spike in glucose, so you feel full longer.”
A recent study was even able to prove that vinegar works wonders. The study showed that people who consumed 4 teaspoons of apple-cider vinegar, in addition to some bagels and juice, ate 200 fewer calories throughout the entire day, compared with those who ate the exact same meal without the vinegar. You may not think 200 calories is a big deal, but it actually can make a huge difference! Cutting out 200 calories a day will amount to you losing 21 pounds in a year, according to Family Circle.
4. Beans and Raw Peppers
Non-heme iron is found in many plant foods, such as beans, whole grains, and spinach. When you eat non-heme iron on its own, the body absorbs 33% less non-heme iron than it would heme iron, which is found in animal products, including beef, fish, and poultry. However, Care2 writes that you can increase your bodies non-heme iron absorption “two- to threefold by consuming it with the vitamin C in whole fruits and vegetables.”
Your brain may instantly think of citrus fruits when it comes to vitamin C, but red peppers also offer plenty of the nutrient. According to Good Housekeeping, one-half cup of pepper has 142 milligrams of vitamin C. To compare, one orange has 70 milligrams of vitamin C.
Wondering how vitamin C allows for more non-heme iron absorption? The nutrient helps in the production of an enzyme responsible for changing non-heme iron to a form of iron that’s more easily absorbed, according to Care2. It’s important to monitor your iron intake, too. Low levels can lead to fatigue, weakness, and poor concentration. Since vegans and vegetarians typically only consume non-heme iron, this food combination is a must-try!
5. Onions and Grapes
This killer combo can fight allergies, cancer, and weight gain. According to Men’s Fitness, quercetin is a plant-derived antioxidant, which has been shown to relieve allergy symptoms and offer cardiovascular protection, and is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables. It is, however, especially concentrated in onions.
On the other hand, black grapes contain high levels of the antioxidant catechin, which assists with helping cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological disorders, and weight loss. Pair these two foods together, and you’ve got the perfect combination for inhibiting blood clots and boosting your overall health. Wondering how to eat the two together? Men’s Fitness recommends adding sliced red grapes and diced onion to a chicken salad or combining them with a few other tasty ingredients to make chutney.
This unlikely pair tastes surprisingly delicious and packs a powerful nutrient punch!
6. Red Wine and Almonds
Red wine has long been listed as a healthy alcoholic drink (in moderation). It has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, protect your heart, help regulate blood sugar, and keep your brain sharp, Prevention writes. Almonds, on the other hand, are a great source of vitamin E, B vitamins, essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and healthy fat. That means that almonds can help your muscles recover faster, protects against sun damage, helps energy production, protects the heart, and ensures you have strong, healthy bones, according to Fox News.
The combination of the two is great because the antioxidant resveratrol, found in red wine, works with the vitamin E in almonds to thin the blood and improve blood vessel health, per Rodale News. Simply put, it keeps your heart running great. Rodale News suggests opting for organic wine and almonds, because the conventional versions can harbor pesticide residues.
7. Brown Rice and Peas
When they work together, brown rice and peas can do wonders for your metabolism. As we age, we begin to lose lean muscle, which helps keep our metabolism running efficiently. The best way to combat this is by lifting weights and making sure that between 25 to 35% of your calories comes from protein, according to Family Circle. You could get all of this protein from red meat and poultry, but they often contain a lot of saturated fat. A better option is plant foods, such as rice, which are packed with protein.
However, you won’t see the result you’d like if you eat rice by itself. When it’s eaten alone, many of these plant-based protein sources lack a few essential amino acids that are needed for it to be a complete protein. That’s where peas come in. While rice is low in the amino acid lysine, peas contain plenty of it. Pair the two together, and you’ve got the perfect protein pair, per Family Circle. The next time you’re considering what to make for dinner, make sure to load up on this tasty, protein-packed combination.