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Food Synergy

You must have heard it that some food duos do more than just excite your taste buds—they could even boost your health. It’s a concept called “food synergy.” While eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key for helping your body stay healthy.

The idea is that some foods can interact in ways to provide even more value. So stick to eating your favorite super foods, but know that serving these 11 combos could pack a more powerful punch of nutrition

Tomatoes + olive oil

You already know that olive oil is a heart-healthy fat shown to boost “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol that can clog your arteries. When paired with tomatoes, though, it has even more superpowers. A 2000 study in Free Radical Biology and Medicine had people consume tomato products with extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil. Researchers found that olive oil raised the antioxidant activity of the lycopene in tomatoes, while no effect was seen with the sunflower oil. .

Green tea + black pepper

Forget adding honey to green tea. Research shows you may be better off sprinkling in some black pepper. Green tea already has a special antioxidant called EGCG, which is thought to boost metabolism and protect against cancer. But the key chemical in black pepper, known as piperine, could make EGCG work even more efficiently. In a 2004 study for The Journal of Nutrition, researchers injected mice with either a combination of EGCG and piperine or EGCG alone. They found that piperine increased the absorption of EGCG, so it wasn’t broken down as quickly in the blood stream. Use the pair to soak meat or seafood. “Brewed tea with garlic, ginger, and black pepper makes a perfect marinade.

Dark chocolate + apples

This pairing won’t just satisfy your sweet tooth. Together, dark chocolate and apples have the potential to improve cardiovascular health. In their skins, apples—red delicious especially—contain the flavonoid quercitin, which acts like an anti-inflammatory. On the other hand, the cocoa in dark chocolate is rich in catechins, an antioxidant that helps prevent the hardening of arteries. When paired, they have been shown to help break up blood clots. Even more reason to start dipping your apple slices in a little chocolate goodness. Just remember: the dark kind has six times more catechins than milk chocolate.

Black beans + red bell pepper

Black beans are a good source of iron. Thing is, the iron in plant foods, known as non-heme iron, isn’t as readily absorbed as the iron you’ll find in meat. Just 2% to 20% of the iron in plant foods makes its way from your digestive tract into your blood, compared to 15% to 35% from heme animal-based iron. That’s where vitamin C-rich foods, like red bell pepper, come in. They can increase the absorption of non-heme iron by six times. So eat black beans and red bell pepper together.

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