Wednesday 16 February 2022



Do you pair your foods because of aesthetic characteristics, colour or because it is a traditional way of food combination? Have you ever wondered why foods are paired? As foods are paired, it can either enhance or inhibit the absorption of nutrients. By pairing certain foods, you can majorly impact the benefit you get from them: increasing the absorption of important nutrients and boosting the effectiveness of antioxidants.


 For the non-heme iron (iron from plant sources) to be best absorbed, non-heme iron, you'd need to give it a little boost by pairing it with a source of vitamin C. The vitamin C helps break the iron down into a form that the body can more easily absorb. To get optimal absorption of iron, the two food sources should be paired in a meal. Add a squeeze of orange or any citrus fruits of choice to a green leafy vegetable or consume a citrus fruit immediately after taking a vegetable soup or sauce.


 Turmeric is an age-long flavoring agent that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and may also benefit kidney health according to some studies. Pairing this age-long spice with black pepper makes the beneficial compounds in turmeric more bioavailable.


This combo of vitamin and mineral will helps keep bones healthy. “Vitamin D helps bring in more calcium from the foods consumed. The duo works together because the active vitamin D form causes a cascade of effects that increases the absorption of dietary calcium in the intestines. To get this pairing right, eat foods offering vitamin D, such as catfish, mackerel, salmon, tuna, egg yolks or fortified foods like milk and non-dairy beverages such as soymilk and orange juice with a variety of calcium-providing foods, like leafy greens such as ugu leaves (fluted pumpkin), amaranth leaves etc. and dairy foods.


In each red gem of a plant-based food, you’ll find lycopene, an incredible disease-fighting antioxidant. Lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer, at early stage. Taking an avocado and gulping it down with a slice of watermelon, cooking your tomatoes as well as serving it with a bit of plant-based oils enhance the body’s absorption of the photochemical.


The intestine absorbs the fats-soluble vitamins — vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin when they’re paired with a fat source. Getting enough of these vitamins and maximally absorbing them is important because deficiencies relate to heightened risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.  Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil or olives help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins from fats-soluble vitamins rich foods such as carrot, sweet potatoes, mango, eggs, liver etc.


Proteins contain both essential and non-essential fatty acids. Of all the essential ones needed by the body, only some foods contain all of them. These protein sources, or complete proteins, are often obtained from animal products like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and non-animal product such as soy foods. Other protein sources like nuts, legumes, grains, and vegetables are incomplete, meaning they lack one or more of the essential amino acids needed for growth and development. But by pairing incomplete proteins together, one creates a complete protein source.” Examples of these combos include rice and black beans, maize and nuts, whole wheat bread and nuts etc. Pairing these variety of proteins, you’ll get ample amounts of each amino acid.


Contact a Dietitian for more interesting food pairing for optimal nutrient absorption.


Millicent Onyinyechi (RDN)

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