Dynamic Duos: 8 foods that are the perfect match

Researchers are continually finding that certain foods deliver an even bigger health boost when eaten together. Scientists call it food synergy; we call it a recipe for better health and tastier meals. Get more nutritional bang for your buck by teaming up these power couples.

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Broccoli and radish may help prevent cancer

Adding a little peppery kick to your broccoli can maximize its antioxidant firepower. A 2012 study in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that pairing broccoli with food such as radishes, arugula, mustard greens or horseradish significantly enhances the formation and absorption of sulforaphane, broccoli's signature antioxidant. Foods such as radishes possess the enzyme myrosinase, which works to improve the formation of sulforaphane and its absorption rate into the blood.

Research suggests sulforaphane has strong anti-cancer power, particularly by preventing the expansion of cancer cells in the body.

Try this: Recharge lunch al desko with this sandwich: In a food processor, pulse 3 cups (750 mL) steamed broccoli florets, 1/3 cup (75 mL) parsley, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup (60 mL) walnuts, 2 garlic cloves, juice of 1/2 lemon and a little olive oil. Spread this pesto on rye bread and top with smoked salmon or turkey plus thinly sliced radish.

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Pair pork and mango for stronger bones

The beta-carotene in orange-coloured fruit and vegetables (e.g., mangoes, carrots, sweet potatoes) is converted into vitamin A in your body. In addition to its role in bone growth, this vitamin is good for maintaining the health of your skin, eyes and immune system. But you need zinc to get the optimum benefits of vitamin A; it is necessary to make retinol-binding protein that transports vitamin A throughout your body. You'll find zinc in pork, poultry, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, oysters and wheat germ.

Try this: Make a salsa to serve with supper: In a bowl, combine 1 peeled and cubed mango, 1 diced orange bell pepper, 1/2 finely diced red onion, 1 seeded and minced jalapeño pepper, 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) orange zest and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) orange juice. Serve over cooked pork tenderloin or chicken breast, or enjoy as a dip.

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Enjoy turmeric and black pepper together to reduce the risk of breast cancer

Here's another reason why you should turn to your spice rack more often. In 2009, researchers at the University of Michigan found that the combination of curcumin (the compound that gives turmeric and curry powder their vibrant hue) and piperine (the fiery substance in black pepper) can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Scientists believe certain phytochemicals such as curcumin and piperine react synergistically with each other, creating additional disease-fighting power.

Try this: Roast up a fibre-packed, cancer-fighting snack: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain, rinse and pat dry a 398-mL can of chickpeas. Toss with 2
teaspoons (10 mL) canola or grapeseed oil, 11/2 teaspoons (7 mL) turmeric, 1/4 tea spoon (1 mL) chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes, or until chickpeas are crisp and slightly browned. Enjoy this snack warm or cooled.

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Pair yogurt and almonds for better digestion

Researchers at the Institute of Food Research in the U.K. discovered in 2010 that fibre present in the skin of almonds increases the good-for-you bacteria in the digestive tract. An almond's skin acts as a prebiotic-non-digestible nutrients that help healthy bacteria (probiotics) flourish in the gut. Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and kefir. Helping them thrive is important because once they multiply, they can outnumber illness-causing bacteria and bolster immunity.

Try this: Add this savoury topping to meats, and much more: In a blender or food processor, place 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain low-fat yogurt, 1/3 cup (75 mL) whole almonds, 1/3 cup unsalted cashews, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of ground cayenne pepper,1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and 1 chopped garlic clove. Process until smooth. Spoon it on top of cooked meat or vegetables.

 

Related:
Dynamic Duos: Foods that are better together
10 food pairs to supercharge your diet
4 healthy superfood pairs