New research shows that by combining these nutritional superheroes together, you’ll pack an even bigger nutritional punch.
To lower your cancer risk
Pair up: Apples & raspberries
If apples could speak, they would tell raspberries, “You complete me.” A study in the Journal of Nutrition determined that the antioxidant ellagic acid (found in raspberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and cranberries) enhanced the ability of quercetin (an antioxidant found in apples, grapes, onions, and buckwheat) to kill off cancerous cells. Food scientists have discovered thousands of such bioactive phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. “Researchers are now discovering that these chemicals often work better in pairs or groups, proving that supplements with single nutrients just can’t match the healing power of whole foods,” says Elaine Magee, a registered dietitian and the author of Food Synergy.
For a stronger heart
Pair up: Soba noodles & broccoli (+Recipe Below)
When “bad” LDL cholesterol particles are oxidized, they are more likely to become plaque in artery walls, leading to heart disease. Antioxidants, true to their name, help fight this process. German researchers discovered that the antioxidants rutin and vitamin C work synergistically to halt LDL oxidation. Rutin is in buckwheat (a Japanese staple found in the pasta and international-food aisles at grocery stores). And, of course, vitamin C is in many fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
For an easy-to-pack lunch: Prepare a package of soba noodles according to directions and toss with 2 cooked and cubed skinless, boneless chicken breasts; 2 cups steamed broccoli florets; 2 chopped tomatoes; 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes. Store in fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
For the energy to go all day
Pair up: Onions & chickpeas (+Recipe Below)
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, sulfur compounds in onions, garlic, and leeks can help you absorb more iron and zinc from grains and legumes, including chickpeas. “Iron is involved in oxygen transport in the body, so an iron deficiency can cause fatigue and brain fog,” notes Bazilian. “Premenopausal women need to be diligent about getting iron in their diet due to blood loss through menstruation.”
Prep in 5, ready in 15: Make an energy-boosting soup: Sauté 1 diced onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves along with 2 tsp. vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium heat until onions are soft. Pour in 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth; then add one 15-oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1 diced carrot, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 tsp. dried sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes and garnish with fresh cilantro. Makes about 4 servings.
To reduce inflammation
Pair up: Tofu & jalapeños (+Recipe Below)
Scientists in Korea have discovered that genistein (an isoflavone with disease-fighting properties found in soy foods such as edamame and tofu) plus capsaicin (an antioxidant that gives chili peppers and jalapeños a fiery kick) help tame inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body is known to be a risk factor for heart disease and cancer. Capsaicin also helps reduce blood pressure, offering even more heart-healthy benefits.
Ready in 10: Toss together an easy, meatless stir-fry by combining cubed firm tofu with chopped fresh vegetables and a little ginger and minced jalapeño; splash with low-sodium soy sauce. Or, for a nutritious afternoon snack, prepare 1 cup shelled edamame (found in the frozen vegetable section of most grocery stores) according to package directions and season with ¼ tsp. sea salt, a pinch of cayenne or chili powder, and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. Makes about 2 servings.
To get more heart-healthy antioxidants
Pair up: Green tea & lemon juice (+Recipe Below)
Catechins are powerful antioxidants found in green tea. And a study of more than 40,000 Japanese adults found that those who enjoyed at least one cup of green tea daily were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t. According to a separate Purdue University report, adding a splash of citrus juice from a lemon, lime, or
grapefruit to green tea reduces the breakdown of its catechins in our digestive system, making them even more readily absorbed by the body.
Ready in 5: For a refreshingly healthy twist on iced tea, squeeze the juice from one lemon into 2 cups of brewed green tea. Chill, then add 1 cup of club soda and some fresh mint. Makes half a pitcher.