When good nutritious food is paired with other nutritious food. The absorption of beneficial nutrients is better enhanced. For instance, when we drink citrus juice when eating iron-rich food like some leafy veggies, the vitamin C enhances the absorption of the iron into our system. This is what’s called synergy in food.
Food synergy, as defined by David Jacobs of the University of Minnesota, defines it as “the idea that food influences our health in complex and interactive ways”. Thus, nutrients, when combined, give bigger health benefits. Food synergy therefore, has something to do with variety.
Phytochemicals, present as lycopene in tomatoes and as anthocyanins in blueberries are best absorbed when ingested with another nutrient such as minerals, proteins, and antioxidants to obtain their health improving and disease-preventing qualities. However, these nutrients are best when absorbed closest to their natural form or with minimum processing, cooking, and heating.
When broccoli is paired with tomatoes, it can prevent prostate cancer. They have their individual health-giving benefits but when paired, they become doubly effective in many ways other than just as a combination of their individual health-giving qualities.
The isoflavones from soybeans can slow down the oxidation of cholesterol and can stop congestive heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels. However to be doubly effective and to obtain maximum effect, isoflavones need to be paired with certain fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes, a little fat in the food you eat can help you absorb the phytochemicals in your diet.
Vitamins B-6 and B-12 and Folic Acid can reduce the amino acid levels that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Vitamin C and the phytoestrogen in beans and grains can work together to inhibit the oxidation of bad cholesterol.
The phytochemicals in apples, onions, and berries, called quercetin when mixed with the phytochemicals in green tea and grape juice can minimize the clumping of platelets and thus reduce the likelihood of a heart attack.
Mediterranean food is healthy because of the use of olive oil and walnuts, which contain monounsaturated fats. This reduces the prevalence of excess body fat, high blood fats and high blood pressure and therefore translates to a healthier heart.