Did you know that even if you eat a ton of anti-inflammatory turmeric, you may not receive its anti-inflammatory properties? Sometimes, you need food pairings for nutrient absorption. This is just one example. In this post, I will detail 6 more powerful combinations of foods that when together, they boost each other’s nutrient absorption. 

A key to health is not what we eat, but what we absorb from what we eat. And some foods are less bioavailable than others. This means that we do not absorb them and do not attain the health benefits they are claimed to offer. In addition, some food pairings for nutrient absorption have a greater health benefit than each food has separately, such as in the case of antioxidants. This is called the synergistic effect, meaning that the whole is greater than the parts.

A wonderful member of a free Facebook Group I administrate, Raw Souls, asked about food combinations that boost the healthful properties of one or both of the foods. She told us that a friend who had had cancer previously let her know that turmeric and black pepper taken together significantly boost the healthful properties of turmeric. Thus, I have decided to put together a list of foods that optimize the absorbability of each other.

I have also included 2 recipes of food pairings for nutrient absorption: the PERFECT SALAD and PERFECT SMOOTHIE. These recipes capture all of the 7 combinations in a very delicious way.

Savory food pairings for nutrient absorption:

  1. Turmeric and Black Pepper + Tahini + Red Onions= >curcumin

Turmeric has incredible anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and tumor fighting properties due to a plant chemical, curcumin. The problem is that turmeric is not very bioavailable when eaten as is. But, if you add black pepper to turmeric, it will enhance curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times because of piperine, a chemical in black pepper.

You can also mix turmeric with fats, because curcumin is not very water-soluble, but mixing it with any fat upon consumption will help your body absorb it better. I have chosen tahini in this case, as it is a very healthy monounsaturated fat that works as a great base for salad dressings.

Mixing turmeric with the plant pigment quercetin will also work great. Quercetin inhibits an enzyme that deactivates curcumin. Many fruits that are dark red or blue contain quercetin. Vegetables like kale, spinach, raw broccoli, red onions, and fruits like red grapes, berries, and apples will be a great pairing with turmeric.

  1. Tomatoes and Tahini = >lycopene

While tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid that reduces cancer risk and heart disease, its bioavailability can be greatly increased by consuming it with a fat. Lutein absorption, also a carotenoid found in leafy greens, is increased by mixing in some fats.

  1. Lemon + Kale= >iron

Vitamin C, which you can get from lemons and other citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli, increases the absorbability of plant-derived iron found in leeks, kale, mustard greens, and spinach.

  1. Brussel sprouts + tahini = >vitamin K

Vitamin K regulates blood clotting, and is critical to bone health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. Thus, it’s a good idea to eat vitamin K with some fat for best absorption. I recommend staying away from oils, as they are processed foods and are devoid of many nutrients. Instead, go for nuts and seeds, or nut and seed butters like tahini.

  1. Kale + tahini= >vitamin E

Vitamin E is another vitamin that requires some fat to be best absorbed. This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports our immune system, as well as protects against cancer and heart disease. Tahini is a monounsaturated fat that would be the perfect partner for your vitamin E-rich kale!

The Perfect Super-Paired Superfood Salad (and Smoothie) Recipes

food pairings for nutrient absorption

Sweet food pairings for nutrient absorption:

  1. Goji Berries + Raspberries = >antioxidants

Studies have found that antioxidants work synergistically; when paired together, the antioxidant response of the whole is greater than the one of each separately. Therefore, taking a single antioxidant supplement can never replace the combined impact of phytochemicals found in fruits and veggies.

Goji berries and raspberries, along with several other berries, are some of the highest antioxidant-containing foods.
2. Apples + Chocolate = >cardio health

Quercetin, the anti-inflammatory flavonoid discussed above, is abundant in apples. Research found that quercetin can reduce the risk of allergies, heart attack, and several cancers. Quercetin is particularly high in the skin of apples. As such, it is important to buy organic so that you can consume the apple peel, which usually contains lots of pesticied. Chocolate contains the flavonoid catechin, which is an antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer. Together, catechin and quercetin loosen clumpy blood platelets and improve heart health, breaking up blood clots.

The Perfect Super-Paired Superfood Smoothie Bowl (and Salad) Recipes


food pairings for nutrient absorption

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Marina Yanay-Triner is a wellness coach and recipe developer through Soul in the Raw. Marina creates easy and delicious vegan recipes and writes about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, focusing on evidence-based nutrition information. She loves to help clients go and stick to plant based eating through her powerful coaching program, combining nutrition and cooking education along with transformational mindset work. Marina adopted a whole food, plant based lifestyle over 7 years ago, inspired by her mother's incredible healing story of reversing a crippling bladder disease. She has reversed PMS symptoms and encourage emotional healing from trauma as a result of this transition. Marina is incredibly passionate about the vegan diet for human health, animal welfare, and the well-being of our planet, all of which she envisions as co-dependent.