Health Tip: Food Combinations For a Balanced Diet
Anuradha Madhusudhanan , Executive Chef, Tattva Gourmet Organic Kitchen | Updated: August 24, 2015 13:01 IST
Most people think that healthy eating is bland and boring. Thankfully, that's barely true! Healthy eating does not mean that you give up your favourite foods. More importantly, it urges you to balance your nutrient intake throughout the day.
A balanced diet must have proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water, which are all broken down by the body and then absorbed into the blood stream. Therefore, it is important to know how your body actually interacts with these nutrients. Nutritional relationships are quite complex. While some combinations work to improve your health, others can cause problems. Consuming food the right way and making smarter choices can increase the nutrient absorption by your body for overall development.
What to eat -
To get the most of what you eat, here are five complimentary food nutrient combinations that you should include in your diet.
1. Fat and Veggies: Vegetables contain vitamins which require some fat to be better absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that eating fresh vegetables with little fat in the form of oils or cheese helps your body absorb valuable nutrients. Use extra virgin olive oil as a dressing or to saute veggies. (Recipe: Green Salad with Feta Cheese)
2. Broccoli and Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain antioxidants and broccoli contains phyto-chemicals; combine them and you have a cancer cell-fighting duo. These nutrients combine and provide protection against cancer.
3. Vitamin C and Iron: Eating a big bowl of iron-rich spinach may not be as healthy. Bung in a handful of oranges or add some lime juice to enhance the nutritional perks. Vitamin C helps convert the iron to a ferrous state, which makes it easier for the body to absorb. You can also add strawberries to your cereal or some beetroots in your meals and shakes. (Recipe: Lemony Spinach Soup)
4. All three B Vitamins: All three major B vitamins (thiamine, B6 and B12) consumed together help in reducing high levels of amino acids which can damage artery lining and increase the risk of stroke. A salad with romaine lettuce, sweet red peppers and parsley can provide you your daily dose of B vitamins. B vitamins also protect you from Alzheimer's and cardiovascular diseases.
5. Vitamin C and Green Tea: Green tea paired with Vitamin C-rich foods will help increase absorption of catechins (antioxidants). A study revealed that adding vitamin C to green tea increases the absorption of antioxidants by as much as three times.
What to avoid -
Faulty food combinations may cause bloating, heartburn and indigestion. Here are five incompatible food nutrient combinations that you should steer clear of.
1. Alcohol and any food: Alcohol can prevent you from absorbing some of the nutrients in your meal. It particularly hinders the absorption of vitamin B, zinc and folic acid.
2. Calcium and Iron: When these minerals bind together they prevent nutrient absorption in the body. Studies suggest that calcium reduces iron absorption by 50-60%. Taking calcium at bedtime improves absorption, makes you sleep better and relaxes muscles. "Don't have milk and fish together" is not just an old grandmother's tale. This combination forms toxins in the body and destroy the body's immunity. So the next time you dig into your favourite palak paneer, think about this!
3.Oxalic Acid and Calcium/Magnesium: Oxalic acid and calcium bind to form insoluble salts that cannot be absorbed. It also hampers the absorption of magnesium into the body. Fruits and vegetables such as radish, beets, figs, plums etc. and other items like chocolates and beer, which are rich in oxalic acid, should be consumed in moderate amounts.
4. Burger with Fries: The overcooked fat and preservatives found in burgers combine with the sugar in the starchy potato fries creating cytokines. Cytokines kill cells, speed up ageing and cause long-term metabolic syndrome. Choose a less fatty burger with pickle or a salad as a side.
5. Melons and Milk: Melons digest quickly while milk takes a while, therefore, this combination can lead to indigestion. Also, melons have a high water and sugar content so it's better to have it on an empty stomach and alone.
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