Food pairings: Working for or against you?

Real Simple on CNN.com/Health
June 27, 2008

 

 
Certain foods play well with others, while others lose strength in pairs.
Toothsome twosomes to watch out for:

DO mix grilled steak and Brussels sprouts

It turns out that certain compounds in Brussels sprouts (and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower) may help rid the body of carcinogens that can form on meat during high-heat cooking.

That said, loading up on these vegetables doesn’t give you license to char meat, chicken, or fish on the barbecue. “It’s always best to cook meat or fish at low temperatures until it’s done,” says Kristin E. Anderson, Ph.D., a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Cancer Center, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “And if there are burned pieces, trim them off.”

DO mix avocado and tomato

Tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene, are a super food. Eat some avocado at the same time and you’ve got a super super food — the fat in the avocado helps the body absorb seven times more lycopene.

“Eating a steak or any fatty food with any vegetable can release its antioxidants,” says Steven J. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of food science at Ohio State University in Columbus. “But small amounts of healthy unsaturated fats are a better choice.”

So add a little extra-virgin olive oil to your zucchini, spinach, and other dark green vegetables to unleash the carotenoid lutein, an antioxidant that may help protect against age-related macular degeneration. And instead of using fat-free dressing on your salad, drizzle on an olive oil–based one.

DO mix spinach and oranges

Although spinach has lots of iron, your body doesn’t absorb it well when spinach is eaten alone. (Sorry, Popeye.) But with vitamin C by its side, this vegetable becomes a true standout.

That’s because vitamin C converts the iron in spinach into a form that is more available to the body, says Liz A. Applegate, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis.

This holds true for other vegetarian sources of iron, too, such as broccoli and tofu. It doesn’t take a lot of C, either. One medium orange will do. You could also add to a spinach salad half a red pepper, several thick slices of tomato, or 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries — all good sources of C. 

“Eating a steak or any fatty food with any vegetable can release its antioxidants,” says Steven J. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of food science at Ohio State University in Columbus. “But small amounts of healthy unsaturated fats are a better choice.”

So add a little extra-virgin olive oil to your zucchini, spinach, and other dark green vegetables to unleash the carotenoid lutein, an antioxidant that may help protect against age-related macular degeneration. And instead of using fat-free dressing on your salad, drizzle on an olive oil–based one.

DO mix spinach and oranges

Although spinach has lots of iron, your body doesn’t absorb it well when spinach is eaten alone. (Sorry, Popeye.) But with vitamin C by its side, this vegetable becomes a true standout.

That’s because vitamin C converts the iron in spinach into a form that is more available to the body, says Liz A. Applegate, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis.

This holds true for other vegetarian sources of iron, too, such as broccoli and tofu. It doesn’t take a lot of C, either. One medium orange will do. You could also add to a spinach salad half a red pepper, several thick slices of tomato, or 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries — all good sources of C.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/06/27/rs.food.pairings/index.html

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