Taking care of your body has more than just physical benefits; it also keeps your brain healthy, prevents future health problems, can enhance your entire sense of vitality, and changes the way you view the food you put on your plate each day. Optimizing your health can also change your life and the lives of people everywhere, not to mention animals, all by choosing whole, plant-based foods. But healthy eating isn’t always easy to navigate, especially when the concern of getting the maximum amount of nutrients in is concerned. However, you can pair certain types of foods together that will not just improve your nutrient intake, but also improve how your body uses these foods.
Here are some of the simplest pairings that will help your body absorb the important, vital nutrients found in these uber-healthy foods.
1. Greens and Healthy Fats
Green foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine, peppers, celery, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, etc., are all some of the most nutrient-dense, lower calorie, and disease-fighting sources of produce you can eat. But to gain the most nutrition from these foods, it can help to pair them with healthy fats such as avocados (also green!), olives, coconut, nuts and seeds. These fats will help act as a sponge for the nutrients in greens and also provide extra vitamins, minerals and protein. They can also help keep you fuller longer since most green foods are so low in calories they don’t satisfy you very long on their own. Try a smoothie with greens and a healthy fat, drizzle some almond butter or melted coconut butter over some roasted vegetables, or top any salad or soup with them.
2. Berries and Grains
There’s a reason so many people put berries on their oatmeal besides just tasting great. Berries contain high amounts of fiber and Vitamin C plus water, and grains provide B vitamins, fiber, and iron. Pairing Vitamin C with iron-rich foods increase the iron uptake of these foods, while the water from berries (and any other fruits) will help your body process the healthy fiber in these grains easier to keep it moving through your system. Potassium-rich foods and magnesium rich foods such as berries and grains also help to keep your blood pressure healthy.
3. Mushrooms and Healthy Fats
Mushrooms are the densest source of plant-based Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E and K) which means they can’t be fully absorbed without healthy fats. Vitamin D is such an important nutrient in the diet that not only prevents depression and colon cancer, but also prevent bone disease such as osteoporosis. Add some avocado, olives, or some sliced almonds to your next dish with mushrooms. How about a roasted Portabello mushroom with some marinara sauce, olives, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a healthy, low-carb vegan pizza?
4. Lemons and Greens
Lemons are such a powerful sources of alkalizing nutrients, specifically immune-boosting Vitamin C. As mentioned, Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron better, and leafy greens are one of the best sources of plant-based iron you can eat from the produce department. Use lemon juice as a natural salad dressing, squeeze some lemon juice over some roasted kale or sauteed spinach, or add a wedge to your next green smoothie for a surprisingly delicious flavor.
5. Tomatoes and Healthy Fats
Tomatoes are one of the best source of the anti-cancer nutrient known as lycopene. However, lycopene is better absorbed in the body when tomatoes are cooked and consumed with some healthy fats. Perhaps cook them with some mushrooms, olives, and topped off with some avocados, or try Grilled Avocados With Roasted Tomatoes for a small meal or filling snack. Yum!
Also keep in mind that when pairing nutrient dense foods together, it’s best to consume healthy sources of protein, carbs, and fats at each meal. You certainly don’t have to live by this rule, (since sometimes a piece of fruit is just good enough on its own), however, it’s one way to help your body get the most nutrition each time you eat. You don’t need a lot of each one, and it’s easier to do than you think.
Here are some examples:
- Greens, grains, beans, healthy fats
- Greens, root vegetables, healthy fats
- Berries, greens, grains, healthy fats
- Legumes, greens, healthy fats
- Greens, seeds, fruits
- Greens, nuts, fruits
- Greens, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds
- Greens, veggies, beans or legumes, healthy fats
- Greens, veggies, grains, healthy fats
We encourage you to try a variety of plant-based foods for optimal nutrition and experiment with different foods to see which ones you enjoy. This will ensure you get enough protein, iron, calcium, and a variety of vitamins in your diet, so long as you choose whole foods and be sure to eat enough of these foods daily. Also see the Best Ways to Cook Your Vegetables for the Most Nutrition for more simple ways to get more nutrition in your meals.
Lead Image Source: Raw Vegan Pizza With Red Pepper Flax Crust