When it comes to nutrition, choosing healthy ingredients is a great start. But combining foods that have digestive chemistry — known as food combining — can give your health an extra boost. Use these stellar food combinations to fend off heart disease, cancer, and more with every meal.
Blueberries + Walnuts
How they work: These delicious toppers contain different types of polyphenols, chemicals that boost our memory and cognition. Together, they also appear to reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation that weaken our brains as we age, says Jim Joseph, head researcher at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston.
How to combine them: Toss a handful of blueberries into cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt along with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts for a filling breakfast or snack.
Onions + Garlic
How they work: People who eat lots of allium vegetables (those in the garlic and onion family) have a much lower risk of developing cancer, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Combine garlic and onion specifically for the full effect: Garlic hinders tumor growth, while onions block excess hormones.
How to combine them: Add onions and garlic into meals whenever you can. Aim to eat at least one clove of fresh garlic a day to get the optimum health benefits.
Tomatoes + Olives
How they work: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a cancer-fighting chemical, and olives are packed with the antioxidant vitamin E. But they work even better in tandem. Research shows that vitamin E and lycopene can slow prostate cancer cell growth by 73 percent — and that a diet high in olive oil and lycopene could cut the risk of heart disease.
How to combine them: Try a tapenade: Process or blend two sautéed or roasted tomatoes with 1 cup fresh black olives, 2 tablespoons each fresh basil and olive oil, and 3 cloves garlic.
Citrus Fruits + Oats
How they work: The high amount of fiber found in oats is known to help lower our overall cholesterol levels. Tufts University researchers, though, have found that having vitamin C with your fiber unlocks another heart-healthy benefit: It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries.
How to combine them: Oatmeal with a side of OJ works, sure, but oats can also be eaten raw: Sprinkle them over orange segments, kiwi, mango, or grapefruit in yogurt.
Turmeric + Pepper
How they work: Turmeric, a spice often used in Indian cooking, is highly anti-inflammatory, meaning it reduces the tissue damage that causes myriad diseases. It also suppresses angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels required for cancer cells to thrive. Bonus: Our body can absorb it 2,000 times better when it’s mixed with black pepper.
How to combine them: Buy turmeric powder (not curry powder, which contains only 10 to 30 percent turmeric). Combine it with black pepper and olive oil, and add to a stir-fry.