Like people, some foods are just made for each other. We’re not just talking about the classic duo of peanut butter and jelly. Some foods (and spices) actually enhance the health benefits of your meal when eaten together.
Here are the perfect pairs that complement each other and are best together. Bonus: They’re delicious, too.
EGGS AND SALAD
Your go-to protein topping for meal-worthy salads might be chicken or tuna, but make sure eggs are in the rotation, too. Better yet, order a cobb salad, says Maggie Michalczyk, RD. “The fat found in the egg yolk helps your body better absorb fat-soluble vitamins found in veggies, like greens, tomatoes and carrots,” she says, something that’s supported by research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
OATS AND WATER
There are a lot of fantastic health benefits oats bring to the table including heart-healthy carbs and filling, gut-friendly fiber. Rather than choosing an oat cereal or bread, go for oatmeal made with water (for zero added calories). When oats are combined with hot water, its beta glucan fiber becomes gel-like, which slows down digestion, helping prevent overeating later. (Combining oats with milk also works if you’re looking for more protein). Compared to eating a cold oat-based cereal, people who ate oatmeal made with water experienced a reduction in appetite that helped people eat 85 calories less at lunch, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
CELERY AND PEANUT BUTTER
This childhood staple should be enjoyed in adulthood, too. “It’s a stellar snack combination since it combines carbs and protein, which improves satiation and combats energy crashes,” says Gabrielle McGrath, RD. In particular, celery is low in calories and its high water content helps keep you full, longer.
WALNUTS AND APPLES
“Walnuts contain a combination of key nutrients including plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats, such as omega-3s,” says Michalczyk. Apples pack in even more fiber: 5 grams per medium fruit. Together, they make for a super filling snack, she says.
MUSHROOMS AND OLIVE OIL
Many mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, a nutrient that’s vital for bone growth and repair and helps reduce inflammation. Because vitamin D is another fat-soluble vitamin, it’s better absorbed in the gut in the presence of fat, but mushrooms are naturally fat-free. Thus, to get the most nutrients, cook them in a healthy fat like olive oil.
TOMATOES AND AVOCADOS
Tomatoes are rich in carotenoids including alpha-carotene and lutein, two powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. In a study that looked at combining salad (another source of lutein and alpha-carotene) along with canola oil, soybean oil, or butter, using higher amounts of fat best helped people absorb these compounds — and using monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) further enhanced that effect. Avocado is a good source of these MUFAs, giving you further reason to add a few slices of tomatoes atop your avocado toast.
TURMERIC AND BLACK PEPPER
Turmeric has a reputation as a superfood because of its curcumin, which helps fight inflammation and supports weight-loss. Research shows a compound found in black pepper, called piperine boosts absorption of curcumin. “Wherever turmeric goes, black pepper should, too,” says Michalczyk. “Add these two ingredients to dressings, seasonings, soups and even lattes,” she says.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND STRAWBERRIES
Chocolate-covered strawberries may be a thing of romance, but the duo has hidden health benefits. Consuming one ounce of 70% dark chocolate provides about 3 mg of iron. However, iron from plant sources isn’t as readily absorbed compared to iron from animal foods. The trick: pairing it with vitamin C. And just one strawberry provides 10 mg of C, or 11% of your daily need. Talk about a perfect dessert.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.