Nature’s Combo Meals

Why pairing certain foods can add nutritional value (and taste) to your meals.

Like peanut butter and jelly, some foods just taste better together. But could certain foods also enhance each other’s nutritional value? Scientists say that some food combinations can provide higher antioxidant potency and nutrient absorption than those same foods will when eaten alone.

As you focus on developing a healthier diet and lifestyle with medical weight loss, learning which foods go best together can help you optimize your nutrition and provide you with some delicious flavors as well. Here are a few summer food combos that will be best for making the most of your weight loss diet.

Spices and Grilled Meat

When lean meat is charred on the grill over high heat, it can form certain compounds that have been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer like heterocyclic amines (HCAs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and malondialdehyde. However, rubbing these meats in certain blends of antioxidant-rich spices can help to neutralize these compounds. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that burgers cooked with a blend of oregano, rosemary, black pepper, paprika and garlic reduced the formation of these cancer-causing compounds by 71 percent. Best of all, a blend of spices can add the perfect flavor boost to any grilled lean meat.

Dark Greens and Lemon

Arugula, spinach and other leafy green veggies are packed with nutrients like iron and vitamins A and C. Squirting some lemon juice on them will not only bring out their natural flavor—it will make the iron in them easier to absorb, giving you a nutritional boost. To get the most out of a summer spinach salad, try making a homemade dressing with the juice from half a lemon, two tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Mixed Berries

Many berries are packed with antioxidants that help to fight disease and cellular damage in the human body. Though this makes fruits like blueberries and strawberries nutritionally beneficial when eaten alone, a study published in the journal Biochemistry showed that eating a mix of berries offers increased protection for your cardiovascular system. Because each different berry contains a different assortment of healthy antioxidants, eating them together provides a broader spectrum of the protective nutrients. Try mixing your blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries together to get the most benefit from your berries.

Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Ripe tomatoes and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil are a popular combination, but the duo can provide much more than just a refreshing and delicious taste. As it turns out, the oil makes it easier for your body to absorb the fat-soluble antioxidants that tomatoes contain, which benefit your heart, skin and all of the body’s other organs. What’s more, extra virgin olive oil contains natural antioxidants and healthy fats of its own, making this a powerful combo.

Great things often come in pairs, and food is no exception. To get the most flavor and nutritional value out of your summer weight loss diet, try out some of these great food combinations.