What do like to include in your salads? Fresh greens are the foundation, of course, and most people include colorful veggies like tomatoes, peppers and carrots. You have undoubtedly heard the more variety, and the more diversity of color, the greater the health benefit. Now research has brought us a new suggestion: Add cooked eggs!
In May the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a small but persuasive study showing that adding eggs to salads enhances the absorption of carotenoids in raw vegetables. Carotenoids are the yellow-red pigments that give many vegetables their bright colors. Two well-known carotenoids are beta carotene and lycopene, both highly-beneficial phytonutrients known to combat inflammation. Results of the study demonstrated people who added three boiled eggs to their salad absorbed 3.8 the amount of carotenoids.
Scientists believe the fat in the eggs made the crucial difference. The findings of this study are supported by other research. Oil-based salad dressing works in the same way, significantly raising the nutrient intake.
Eggs and vegetables are not the only powerful pair. Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, and lead researcher on the study, says, “Sometimes the impact may be positive and at other times negative.”
Corn tortillas are a well-recognized example. When corn is soaked in lime and water, then ground, the nutrients in the corn are released for greater absorption. These include iron, niacin and minerals. No wonder corn tortillas have been a staple of Mesoamerican cuisine for thousands of years. So chop up some peppers and stir them into your black beans.
If you’d rather go Mediterranean, pair hummus with whole wheat bread. The chickpeas and tahini in the hummus, along with the bread, provide all the plant-based amino acids for a complete protein. This combination is a vegetarian staple in many countries, and popular among Americans.
When you add tumeric to your curry recipe, include some black pepper. This combination makes it easier for the body to absorb the curcumin in the tumeric, with all its anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. One study demonstrated pepper boosts the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 percent.
We all know yogurt is a great source of calcium. But if you don’t have an adequate level of vitamin D in your gut, your body may not be able to properly absorb the calcium. Why not take your bowl of yogurt outside, and enjoy it in the sunshine?
As Professor Campbell points out, not every pairing is beneficial to health. For example, phytates, a kind of acid present in tea and coffee, can decrease the absorption of zinc and iron. So be aware your morning coffee may interfere with nutrients in the rest of your breakfast meal.