People are eating more plant-based food and less animal-based food as part of their switching to plant-based diets like veganism and vegetarianism. One issue with this is that they are susceptible to certain nutritional deficiencies because certain nutrients are not available or are difficult to absorb. This can be overcome by using different strategies, and one such method is using the concept of food synergy because it increases the bioavailability of nutrients. Read on to know more about food synergy and other methods to improve nutrient absorption in a plant-based diet.
What Is Food Synergy?
Food synergy is the method of combining two or more nutrient-rich foods in a meal to increase their dietary impact. This is especially useful when eating a plant-based meal, as it enhances the absorption of certain nutrients that are hard to absorb due to various reasons. As a result, it improves their health benefits, and this concept is used in medicine to increase the effectiveness of treatments. Shared below are some food pairings that have a synergistic effect on nutrient absorption.
Vitamin C And Spinach
Leafy green like spinach has iron in the form of non-heme iron, and this makes its absorption difficult in the intestine. This can be overcome by pairing it with vitamin C food sources like citruses as it improves iron absorption. That is why you add lemon juice in salad dressing and hummus.
Avocado And Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene that is known to help maintain cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. It is a fat-soluble compound, i.e. its absorption can be increased by combining with fat or lipid-rich foods. So, using an avocado mash on tomato wedges increases the bioavailability of lycopene, and it is tasty as well.
Apart from food synergy, there are other ways you can increase the nutrient absorption from plant-based food, and they are shared below.
Eat Wide Variety Of Foods
The calcium absorption from some leafy green is lower because they contain higher amounts of oxalates. So, to increase their calcium absorption, combine them with low oxalate greens like cabbage, lettuce, bok choy, and some types of kale. This also increases the nutritional profile of the plant-based meal.
Cooking And Processing
Processing plant-based food like milling or hulling grains, seeds, pulses, germinating or sprouting pulses, and soaking increases their nutritional bioavailability. This helps to remove phylates that hinders the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium. Likewise, cooking carrot makes beta carotene more bioavailable and cooking tomato also increases the bioavailability of lycopene.
We hope that this article will help you with the proper preparation of plant-based meal so that you can ensure proper nutrition.