There is a saying “you are what you eat” but did you ever think you are what you absorb? No matter what our work out routine, if we are not absorbing the foods we eat then we are not getting the vitamins and minerals we thought they were getting. When using food to supply nutrients, which should be our first defense, we can couple some foods to do a dynamite job and give us their greatest performance. When eating certain foods together as a “couple” then we create a bio available form of those nutrients. That is to say, by eating certain foods together they help our body absorb the nutrients a whole lot easier.

Lets take a look at some great “food couples” that will aid us in some way or another.

Looking to build up immunity? Try pairing cruciferous vegetables with zinc. Chop up some onions, garlic and add it to your beans, or how about brown rice with chopped nuts, onions and grilled chicken. Cruciferous vegetables teamed with zinc help us build our immunity. Zinc alone is good for would healing and those cruciferous veggies contain sulfur which is helpful for removing toxins from the body. Other sources of zinc containing foods include oatmeal, nuts, legumes, and red meat. Cruciferous veggies include cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Would you like to improve your skin? Eat more orange colored veggies containing betacarotene and Vitamin A with a little taste of a healthy fat. Why? Because the betacarotene needs a little fat in order to turn into vitamin A and to get absorbed into the body. So take advantage of in season avocados or nuts of any kind. Pair up nuts with dried fruits like apricots to make your own trail mix. Sprinkle some ground flaxseed onto your hummus and dip in carrots. Cantaloupe and sweet potatoes are other good example of betacarotene containing fruits. One of my favorites is baked sweet potato fries tossed with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled with fresh rosemary. Your skin will thank you and if cooking for kids they will love the sweetness of the sweet potato fries too.

Whether you work out in a gym, at home or go for long walks we all need to take care of our bones and our hearts. Working out helps strengthen both bones and our heart, as does certain foods. We have all heard of eating the good fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as increase our intake of omega 3’s but did you know that it was an advantage to couple it with vitamin K for heart and bone health? Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and or building bone but it needs those good fats to do so. Next time you sauté your leafy greens like swiss chard, kale or spinach try using some olive oil and tossing some almond slivers in with it. Walnuts are wonderful choice to mix in with brussels sprouts. Lets not forget the avocado, next time you make guacamole add chopped walnuts in there to add flavor , texture and to help build bones.

Who doesn’t need energy? Coupling foods for energy is something you might already be doing.
Eating foods high in iron along with a high containing vitamin C food will increase absorption of iron which is needed for energy.
Leafy greens added with a lemon or a citrus dressing makes it easier for the body to absorb the iron found in the leafy greens. Have your morning oatmeal with strawberries and sprinkle a little wheat germ on top. Eating lunch, no problem, have a spinach salad with orange slices, nuts and cucumbers.
Other foods with high vitamin C include peppers particularly yellow bell peppers,kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes peas and papayas. Iron containing foods other then red meat include spinach, tofu, quinoa, chick peas, pinto and black beans.

One of my personal favorite combos is using the chickpea, black beans and adding peppers, carrots, chopped avocados, olives, carrots, chives and a lime vinaigrette and serve it with a side of baked or grilled fish. This is a mixture of food that is good for not only my energy, but also my immunity, bones and heart.