Some foods just go well in pairs. A few classic, dynamic duos are so synonymous with each other, they’re rarely seen apart.
Spaghetti and meatballs. Liver and onions. Pineapples and ham.
These foods go well together as they complement each other’s tastes. But some foods, when combined with one another, can do more than satisfy your hunger – they can even boost your health.
Food synergy is a concept where some foods interactions provide even more nutritional value compared to being consumed alone.
Don’t stop eating those nutrient-rich superfoods if you get a chance, but know that serving them in certain combinations can unlock the nutritional vault.
Here are a few superfood pairs you can try:
Black Beans + Red Bell Peppers
Black beans are quality source of iron, though it isn’t as readily absorbed as the iron you’ll find in meat. Only 2% to 20% of iron from plants, known as non-heme iron, is consumed, compared to as high as 35% from animal-based iron from meats.
Vitamin C-rich foods, like red bell peppers, increase the non-heme iron intake by six times the regular amount.
Recipe idea: Black bean tacos topped with sautéed red bell peppers.
Garlic + Salmon
A lot of people already add garlic to their fish dish for that fantastic taste. When combined with salmon, the two foods can decrease your risk of heart disease. They drop cholesterol levels drastically; too much cholesterol clogs blood vessels and impedes blood flow.
Try cooking up your salmon with a bit of garlic, as there’s really no downside – taste or health wise.
Dark Chocolate + Apples
How about something a little sweet? These two treats together have the potential to improve cardiovascular health. Apple skins contain the flavonoid quercetin, which acts like an anti-inflammatory. Cocoa in dark chocolate is rich in catechins, an antioxidant that helps prevent the hardening of arteries. When combined, they can break up blood clots.
Any chocolate can work; just remember the dark kind has six times more catechins than milk chocolate.
Kale + Almonds
Kale is a trendy superfood right now, loaded with vitamin K, and a big source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that fends off cancer and heart disease risk through boosting our immune systems.
Both vitamins are fat-soluble, so they need a nutritious source of fat to increase absorption, like the black beans+red bell peppers combo.
Almonds are the perfect complement for kale, as they’re full of monounsaturated fat.
Topping your kale salad with almond slivers is an easy, subtle way to unite these vitamin E-rich foods.
Green Tea + Black Pepper
Stop adding honey to your green tea. Research shows you may be better off adding a little seasoning to your drink.
Green tea has a special antioxidant called EGCG, which boosts metabolism and protects against cancer. Piperine, the main chemical component in black pepper, could make EGCG work even more efficiently.
Now a spicy green tea sounds odd, and it is. If you’re not into the unorthodox duo, use the pair to soak meat or seafood. Adding garlic, ginger, and black pepper to brewed tea makes for a perfect marinade.