6 Secrets To Turn Everyday Foods into Superfoods

superfood combinations, healthy food combinations, food pairings, food synergy or synergies

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

November 27, 2017

  • The secret to turning everyday foods into superfoods
  • Food pairing combinations that unlock nutrient absorption
  • A powerful seasoning combo for your veggies

Getting all of your nutrients from food can be a challenge. And it’s probably one of the reasons people fall in love with so-called superfoods like kale, goji berries and chia seeds.

But when it comes to healthy eating, enjoying a wide variety of different foods is extremely important. That’s because certain foods have synergy with each other. When you eat them together, it increases your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in them.

In other words, you can turn everyday foods into superfoods by pairing them with others that make them more bioavailable.

For instance, when you add a healthy fat to your salads and vegetables, it can increase the absorption of several nutrients. A simple salad is a perfect example of how this works.

When you add a fat like avocado, egg or extra virgin olive oil to a salad, it greatly enhances the absorption of carotenoids. Beta carotene absorption increases by up to 15 times. Absorption of lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin increases by at least fourfold.

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Adding fat also increases the absorption of other fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D, E, K and A. None of this happens if you use a low- or no-fat salad dressing or forego the addition of other healthy fats.

So it’s always a good idea to eat your salads and vegetables with some form of healthy fat.

But this isn’t the only food-pairing trick you can put to good use. I have a few more that can kick your nutrient absorption into overdrive.

Other Food Pairing Combinations that Boost Nutrient Absorption

Unfortunately, only a fraction of the nutrients we ingest actually make it through our digestive tract. And that percentage often decreases as we get older. So pairing foods for maximum absorbency makes good sense. Here are a few of my favorites.

Salsa and guacamole is a great pairing, and extremely tasty. When avocado and salsa are eaten together, the healthy fats in the guacamole improve the lycopene (a powerful cancer fighter!) uptake from the tomatoes by about four times. If you’re not fond of the spicy Tex-Mex fare, just add avocado and tomatoes to your salads and other foods.

Citrus and dark greens. Add a splash of lemon juice to your greens to get an added boost of iron. Plant-based iron is called “non-heme” iron. And it is much less bioavailable than the heme iron found in meat. Thus, vegetarians are more likely to experience low iron levels than meat-eaters.

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However, when you combine plant sources of iron with vitamin C will, it makes the iron more available to your body. This combination also works when you use citrus dressings on your salads or eat green salads mixed with citrus fruit.

Oysters and red wine. Cooked oysters are one of the foods highest in zinc. And if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your oysters, you’ll be able to absorb even more of that zinc. This is especially good news for men, since zinc helps to balance testosterone and maintain a healthy prostate.

Other high zinc foods you can pair with red wine include lobster, crab, grassfed beef, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Green tea and lemon go together even better than you might think. Green tea contains a treasure trove of health-promoting antioxidants called catechins. And guess what? A squirt of lemon in green tea can cause 80% of the catechins to remain after digestion. Without the lemon, only 20% of the catechins make it through your digestive system.

A Powerful Seasoning Combo for your Veggies

Black pepper and curcumin. Black pepper contains piperine, which increases the bioavailability of many foods. In particular, it enhances the effectiveness of curcumin (one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs we know of), which is often degraded in the gut where it loses much of its power.

However, combining black pepper with curcumin enhances the absorption by a whopping 2000%.

With this in mind, here’s one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory and nutritious seasonings you can make for your veggies.

Just combine ¼ teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of ground pepper to ½ teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Then simply add the mixture to your veggies (or even your soups and stews).

The healthy fats in the olive oil will boost the nutritional value of the vegetables, while the black pepper works with the curcumin to greatly boost its anti-inflammatory power.


Kim JE, et al. Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):75-83.

White WS, et al. Modeling the dose effects of soybean oil in salad dressing on carotenoid and fat-soluble vitamin bioavailability in salad vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Oct;106(4):1041-1051.

Unlu NZ, et al. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):431-6.

Brown MJ, et al. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;80(2):396-403.

Cook JD, et al. Effect of ascorbic acid intake on nonheme-iron absorption from a complete diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jan;73(1):93-8.

Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 2 © 2001, The United Nations University.

Christudoss P, et al. Zinc status of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate carcinoma. Indian J Urol. 2011 Jan-Mar; 27(1): 14–18.

Green RJ, et al. Common tea formulations modulate in vitro digestive recovery of green tea catechins. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Sep;51(9):1152-62.

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