You know how some things just go together? Like peanut butter and jelly? Jack Johnson says it best when he sings, “It’s always better when we’re together.” The same is true of certain foods, food groups, and even vitamins and minerals.
From a general standpoint, I have always taught food pairings. One of the pillars of my philosophy is to combine your macronutrients, which is technically your food groups. In my book, carbs are always better for you when paired with the right amount of fat and protein. The general suggestion I give is 50% carbs, 25% fat, 25% protein. The idea behind this is to keep your blood sugar balanced so that you’re burning fat for fuel and not burning off glucose all the time. It’s one of the best tools in all of preventative health.
With that in mind, I hope you consider never eating a carb by itself again, but I also want to give you one more thing to think about. Some foods are so nutrient-rich that they actually need other foods to help them absorb into our bloodstream. By now, you’ve heard about turmeric and its active compound, curcumin. It’s the superfood to combat inflammation—a general cause of tons of health issues, like chronic pain, arthritis, digestive issues, and more. However, in order for your bloodstream to absorb curcumin, you need a compound most commonly found in black pepper, called piperine. So when I add turmeric to my bone broth or my smoothies, I always include a sprinkle of black pepper too. Make sure if you’re taking turmeric in supplement form that the ingredients also include black pepper (piperine) in them.
There are several other foods that are simply better together. Things to think about when you’re using them:
• Tomatoes and oil: It goes without saying that healthy oil makes everything taste better. Tomatoes, like several other bright red fruits and veggies, are loaded with lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been known to fight serious diseases. It’s best released from the tomatoes when cooked down and combined with a little healthy fat, like avocado oil.
• Citrus and greens: Is there anything that tastes better than a spritz of citrus on your giant green salad? Or have you ever eaten a green salad to have it hurt your stomach? Try adding citrus. Greens are loaded with iron and citrus, like lemon is loaded with vitamin C. Both of these phytonutrients need each other for best absorption.
• Beans and rice: My kids could live off this probably their whole childhood, and here’s why I’m OK with that. Rice is a whole grain that has health benefits, but because of its higher glycemic load, you need more fiber and protein to best use it. Beans are jam-packed with fiber, which lowers the amount of glucose that is absorbed into the bloodstream.