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Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

5 Powerful Food Combos for Better Health

Could you be missing out on the healing power of some of your favorite healthy foods? Try these pairing tips for optimum nutritional outcome of your favorite edible plants like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and chilies.

Pairing up foods isn’t just for taste: it can impact how healthy your meals and snacks are. Not all food pairings are beneficial, either; some can decrease nutrition by blocking the absorption of nutrients– like eating a food high calcium with an iron-rich protein, since calcium blocks iron absorption. The right pairings can make all the difference and upgrade their partner plant’s potency while also making them taste more delicious. Curious about food synergies?Try the combos below for more taste and nutrition.

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Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Garlic + Onions

Garlic is prized by cooks for its savory aroma and its potent antibacterial compounds, which boost the body’s ability to deal with carcinogens. When paired with onions, garlic’s antioxidant properties greatly increase. The wide variety of detoxing compounds the plant offers are also expanded when you pair garlic with onion to make a mixture that is detoxing for the liver, heart, and circulatory system. Try making caramelized onions and garlic as a topping for your pizza or veggie noodles, or add them to your sandwich as a flavorful alternative to mayo. 

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Ginger + Chilies

Fan of Indian curries? Then you already love the pungent pairing of ginger and chilies that you’ll find in most curries, which is as good for your health as it is pleasing to your taste buds. Both their active compounds, capsaicin and gingerol-6, bind to the same cellular receptor related to tumor growth to aid in cancer prevention, while the compounds in ginger “cancel out” potentially-harmful compounds in chilies

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Turmeric + Black Pepper

According to one study, the piperine in black pepper increases the potency of curcumin– the active ingredient in Turmeric– since piperine keeps curcumin in your system longer, allowing for a much higher absorption (about 1000% more, in fact!). Black pepper is often paired with other adaptogenic foods to boost their efficacy, but like grapefruit, black pepper can inhibit drug metabolism, so avoid taking large amounts and check with your doctor before supplementing if you take prescription meds

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Chilies + Avocado

Skip the sugary energy drinks and latch on to hot chilies that contain the healing compound capsaicin, which can also boost your energy in a healthier way. Capsaicin, a fat-soluble compound, is responsible for chilies’ fiery heat– and it also happens to be an important anti-inflammatory great for joint pain and general pain management. Since capsaicin is a fat-soluble compound, it should be paired with foods high in healing fats, like coconut, avocado, and even in chai coffee made with fat-rich grassfed dairy or coconut milk. You can also add dried chilis to guacamole for a flavorful, nutrient-packed kick. 

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Green Tea + Lemon

Green tea gets its health benefits from catchins, a compound linked to promising research that suggests it can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. However, this compound isn’t very stable when ingested since it needs acidity to be properly absorbed. Turns out the ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in lemon boost catchins uptake by up to five times! So give your tea a lemony lift with a fresh lemon wedge, or try combining chilled green tea with your favorite smoothies made with vitamin C-rich fruits like orange or kiwi.

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