Nutrition articles often market single nutrients for health benefits: we know that calcium builds stronger bones, and that vitamin A yields glowing skin. Recent research, however, has shown that certain nutrients, when combined, work synergistically to enhance the beneficial effects of one or both nutrients. This is why nutritionists advocate a balanced and varied diet, filled with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, nuts, and animal products. By combining certain nutrients, you not only increase their effectiveness exponentially, but you can also treat your palate to a variety of tastes and truly get the most bang for your buck.
Lycopene + Monounsaturated Fats for Cardiovascular Health
Lycopene is a fat-soluble antioxidant that gives produce like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit its rich red color. Among other superpowers, it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats, which also protect against heart disease and show other cardiovascular benefits, help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like lycopene. In fact, one study showed that those who ate a salad containing avocadoes (a source of monounsaturated fats) and tomatoes, they absorbed five times as much lycopene as those who ate just tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes, instead of eating raw ones, also increases the absorption of lycopene up to three or four times.
Try this: Caprese salad with tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella, and basil; guacamole and salsa; spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce and olive oil; pesto with roasted tomatoes; turkey sandwich with avocado and tomatoes
Check back for the next super-nutrient pairing!