Six food combinations to beat disease

The Do Diet: Certain nutrients are proven even more effective when eaten together. These dynamic duos can help prevent cardiovascular disease, protect your bones and even lower your risk of cancer.
By Karen Robock; Adapted from Food Synergy, written by registered dietitian Elaine Magee
Six food combinations to beat disease

1. Top your salad with cherries and alfalfa sprouts
They may not seem like an obvious pairing, but preliminary research shows strong synergy between the antioxidants in cherries and sprouts that may help reduce LDL cholesterol, which could in turn help prevent cardiovascular disease. Add a vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil and some flaxseeds for an extra-heart-healthy lunch. The oil helps boost the anti-inflammatory effects of the omega-3s in the seeds.

2. Whip up a spinach omelette for brunch
Good news for women who don’t drink enough milk: There’s another way to get calcium (essential to prevent osteoporosis). Spinach contains a healthy dose of the mineral, and when it’s eaten with egg yolks, a source of vitamin D, your body can better absorb the bone-building nutrient.

3. Opt for Mexican when you order takeout
A burrito can deliver a megadose of B vitamins. Black beans are rich in folate, and pork delivers B6 and B12 vitamins. When eaten in combination, they can help to reduce plaque in your carotid arteries , helping to protect you from heart disease.


4. Serve a side of greens with your grilled steak
Concerned about iron deficiency? Dark, leafy green veggies—like kale, collard greens and spinach—contain vitamin C, which will enhance your body’s absorption of the iron in a lean cut of beef. Keeping your iron levels up will maintain optimum oxygen flow through your bloodstream.

Plus a glass of red wine: Sipping merlot with this meal can have an additional benefit: Researchers from the Heart Research Institute in Australia found the polyphenols in red wine may further enhance the antioxidant activity of vitamin E — also found in the dark greens — which can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

5. Fill up on whole foods
If certain foods are eaten whole, their ingredients work synergistically to provide even more disease-fighting benefits. These three can help reduce your cancer risk:

Ground Flaxseeds: The seeds’ oil and pulp work in sync to reduce your risk of some cancers. To ensure freshness, buy them whole, then grind them at home in a clean coffee grinder. Add to shakes, or when baking recipes call for 1 cup of fl our, replace 1/4 cup of it with 1/4 cup of ground flaxseeds. Store in a zip-lock bag in the fridge or freezer.

Apple: Research at Cornell University found that the catechins in the flesh of this fruit had a bigger disease-fighting effect when eaten with the peel. Apples are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so buy organic or scrub them thoroughly.


Tomato: These contain three high-powered antioxidants — beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C — which work together to inhibit the cellular damage that can lead to cancer. For maximum benefit, eat tomatoes whole, including the peel and seeds. Make your own salsa, or add whole cherry tomatoes to a cold pasta salad.

    6. Embrace citrus
    Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits: These synergy superfoods contain flavones, said to deliver anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Vitamin C in large doses also helps supercharge other foods


    Snack on oranges. The flavones and phytochemicals in oranges work together to boost their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power. For best results, have a whole orange as a snack, or choose unfiltered OJ.

    Top tofu with lemon or lime. Research shows that adding citrus, like lemon juice or zest, to soy may help increase its heart-health powers. Select any dessert-style soft tofu, then top at home for an easy treat.


    Have grapefruit juice with almonds. The vitamin C in the juice works with a phytochemical in the almond skins to help prevent LDL cholesterol from accumulating in your arteries. And it’s the perfect afternoon snack.

    Six food combinations to beat disease  

    Strawberry and orange fruits work together to boost antioxidant activity and help keep your heart healthy. Try this spread on whole-wheat toast or bagels.


    Strawberry-orange fruit spread 

    1 block light cream cheese
    2 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    2/3 cup diced strawberries
    1 1/2 tsp orange zest


    Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Cover and store in the fridge until needed. Serve within 24 hours.


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