Did you know that combining certain ingredients can boost the positive affect they have on your health? Nutritionist Rob Hobson reveals all plus 9 healthy recipes
Want to boost your mood? You should try combining your daily apple with some leafy greens.
Need to lower your blood pressure? Try mixing grapes with onions.
Rob Hobson, a Registered Nutritionist with a special interest in food science has revealed the food combinations that can super-boost your health, as well as being healthy on their own of course.
A study of 2,000 adults by wellbeing brand Healthspan found that 54 per cent of adults are unaware that combining different foods can benefit their health, and 31 per cent never think about mixing foods together to get more out of them.
What’s more, the study also found that 21 per cent have little or no understanding of vitamins and minerals and their role within their body.
people believed that a lack of vitamins and minerals had left 46 per cent suffering with a health issue
Yet, 54 per cent think their diet is missing key vitamins or nutrients, with 39 per cent blaming this on not knowing what vitamins and minerals are in different foods.
Another 36 per cent put it down to not knowing what nutrients they need.
It also emerged that people believed that a lack of vitamins and minerals had left 46 per cent suffering with a health issue, but just 32 per cent of those polled via OnePoll are confident they would know the signs they are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
As a result, 56 per cent of adults currently take a supplement, with 46 per cent of those taking vitamin D and 35 per cent consuming a general multivitamin.
‘Food should always be first, but cleverly combining combinations of vitamins and minerals in supplements can also play a role in supporting our health,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer, a medical director working with Healthspan.
What are food synergies?
‘Food synergy is defined by the way in which certain foods and the nutrients they contain work together to offer health benefits stronger than the individual foods alone do,’ explains Rob Hobson who commissioned the above research study.
‘We thrive on synergies and many of us create them in our lives without even knowing we are doing so. From a biological point of view the body needs synergies to function properly.
Certain foods can be can be combined to target specific conditions
‘While the foods may have their own individual health benefits, this can be even greater when mixing them together as they can help the other one to better do its job. Simply combining two items can supercharge the impact it has on your health.
‘Our diet is hugely important for our health and paying more attention to what we eat, and how we combine foods, can be really beneficial to health and wellness.
‘Certain foods can be can be combined to target specific conditions such reducing inflammation, managing diabetes and heart disease or dealing with symptoms of the menopause.
Rob Hobson reveals nine healthy recipes that will improve your health thanks to food synergy…
Healthy Recipe #1 Salmon, prawn and almond curry
Helps with: Reducing inflammation in the body which is at the root of all chronic diseases
Food synergy: Oily fish (salmon, trout, herring, sardines, mackerel) – omega 3 + turmeric (curcumin)
This fish curry is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and curcumin which is the active compound found in turmeric.
Together, this food synergy can amplify the anti-inflammatory effects of the individual nutrients alone, helping to reduce inflammation in the body as well as reducing the risk of developing many chronic diseases including those of the heart.
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 courgette, sliced
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 80g ground almonds
- 1 chicken stock cube (reduced salt)
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 250g green beans, chopped
- 2 salmon fillets, cut into chunks
- 150g king prawns
- ½ lime, juiced
- Handful coriander, chopped
- Salt & Pepper
1. Heat the oil in a pan then add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Now add the pepper, courgette, spices, tomato puree and a splash of water, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
2. Add the almonds, stock cube and 500ml water to the pan. Check for seasoning and then simmer for 10 mins.
3. Add the beans and salmon to the sauce and simmer gently for 3 minutes then add the prawns and cook for a further 1 min until they turn pink.
4. Remove from the heat and add a little lime juice. Serve the curry with brown rice.
Healthy Recipe #2 Overnight oats topped with almonds and berries
Helps with: Heart disease
Food synergy: Almonds (flavonoids) with foods rich in vitamin C (berries)
Almond skin contains flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants in the body.
In combination with vitamin C found in foods such as berries, this combination has been shown to help reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is now considered a key factor in the development of heart disease.
- 120g porridge oats (gluten free)
- 150ml apple juice
- 1 handful flaked coconut
- 20g blueberries
- 20g whole blanched almonds
- 2 tbsp of plain yoghurt or dairy-free alternative
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- Zest of 1 lime
1. Place the oats in a bowl with the apple juice, flaked coconut, blueberries, whole almonds, yoghurt, cinnamon and lime zest.
2. Mix together, place in the fridge and leave for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Healthy Recipe #3 Tomato, avocado and basil salad dressed with olive oil
Helps with: Heart health, prostate health
Food synergy: Foods high in lycopene (tomatoes) + olive oil
Lycopene is a plan compound and antioxidant that has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and has also been associated with an improvement in prostate health.
Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene which is aided in its absorption when combined with fat such as olive oil.
Olive oil in itself possesses many health benefits to support good heart health including reducing inflammation and increasing HDL cholesterol.
Olive oil also helps the human body to absorb the vitamin A found in tomatoes and red peppers, which is required for healthy skin and eyes.
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 large ripe avocados, cubed
- ½ small red onion, finely sliced
- 1 handful coriander, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Salt & Pepper
1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Season to taste before serving.
Healthy Recipe #4 Breakfast smoothie made with probiotic yoghurt and banana
Helps with: Healthy microbiota, bone health
Food synergy: Probiotic yoghurt + banana (prebiotics)
Maintaining a balance of good to bad bacteria is essential for a healthy microbiota and probiotic yoghurt delivers beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus to the gut.
This is important as the gut is where food is broken down and nutrients are absorbed and delivered around the body.
Gut health is also closely linked to immunity. The addition of bananas adds prebiotics (inulin) to the mix.
These indigestible fibres are fermented by bacteria in the gut – essentially they are helping to feed the bacteria in your gut helping it to flourish.
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 200g fat-free probiotic Greek yoghurt
- 350ml skimmed milk
- Handful oats
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Healthy Recipe #5 Blue cheese and grape salad (include red onions)
Helps with: Heart health, blood pressure (circulation)
Food synergy: Black grapes (catechin) + onions
Black grapes are rich in polyphenol antioxidant catechin, which helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders and in weight management.
Together, onion and grapes inhibit blood clots and boost cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that this combination helps to improve cardiovascular protection by improving circulation.
- Knob of butter
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 75g pecans
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 heads of radicchio lettuce
- 100g bag rocket
- 50g grapes, halved
- 140g Roquefort cheese
1. Heat the butter and sugar in a small frying pan then add the pecans. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until the nuts are crisp. Transfer to a lined baking sheet to cool before chopping.
2. Prepare the salad dressing by combining the balsamic and olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
3. Place the radicchio and rocket in a bowl and add the grapes and dressing then toss to combine well.
4. Arrange the salad onto 4 plates and top with crumbled Roquefort and pecans.
Healthy Recipe #6 Apple, walnut and spinach salad
Helps with: Cognitive function and mood
Food synergy: Apples (flavonoids) + green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, rocket) – dietary nitrate
Apples are rich in flavonoids, and green leafy vegetables are rich in dietary nitrate. Studies reveal that combination of flavonoids and nitrate could increase nitrous oxide production.
The increase in nitrous oxide following consumption of flavonoids and dietary nitrate could improve cognitive function and mood. Beetroot is also high in dietary nitrates.
- 2 apples, cored and diced
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 250g baby spinach leaves
- 4 chives, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 100g goats cheese, crumbled
- 50g walnuts, chopped
1. Toss the apple in 2 tbsp of lemon juice then place ono a large bowl with the spinach leaves.
2. Make the dressing by whisking together the remaining lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
3. Divide the salad between four bowls then top with the cheese and walnuts.
Healthy Recipe #7 Paprika and turmeric chicken (spice rub includes black pepper)
Helps with: Joint health
Food synergy: Black pepper (piperine) + turmeric (curcumin)
The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin and it has been widely researched for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is difficult to absorb in the body but in combination with black pepper its absorption is magnified. The active ingredient in pepper is called piperine which is responsible for this absorptive effect.
- 8 chicken thighs (skin on)
- 1 bulb of garlic, cloves removed and bashed (leave the skin on)
- 1 tbsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp of Lebanese 7 spice or Baharat
- 2 tbsp olive oil
1. Place the spices, olive oil and salt in a large bowl and whisk with a fork.
2. Prick the skin of the chicken thighs with a sharp knife then place in a bowl then rub all over the chicken making sure to get under the skin.
3. Add the garlic cloves to the bowl and combine with your hands.
4. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking.
6. Heat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet then put them in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes.
7. Once cooked remove from the oven and serve with salad and coleslaw.
Healthy Recipe #8 Black bean chili (includes red peppers)
Helps with: Iron deficiency anaemia
Food synergy: black beans (iron) + red peppers (vitamin C)
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency across the globe. It affects more women than men as a result of menstruation, but dietary intakes have been shown to be low amongst women.
The NDNS survey has shown that 25 per cent of adult women do not get enough iron in their diet. Even those shown to be getting enough iron from their diet may still be low in iron if their diet is mostly plant-based.
Non-haem iron from plant foods is less easily absorbed in the body. It is widely understood that non-haem iron is more readily absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.
Plant source of iron include beans, pulses, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and dried fruit. Red peppers are the richest dietary source of vitamin C but others include berries, broccoli, citrus fruits and potatoes.
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp mild chilli powder
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 3 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp bottled lime juice
- 2 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 2 x 400g canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 400g canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 400g can sweetcorn, rinsed and drained
1. Set a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Now add the onions and garlic and fry for about five minutes to soften. Add the spices and cook for two minutes until they become fragrant.
2. Add the lime juice, cocoa powder and tomatoes then cook for 10 minutes. Now add the beans and sweetcorn to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Serve the chilli in bowls and top with crumbled cheese. It works great with sliced avocado if this available.
Healthy Recipe #9 Ginger and turmeric salad dressing (includes honey and garlic)
Helps with: Upper respiratory tract infections
Food synergy: Garlic (phenols) + honey
Garlic and honey are often cited as being singularly antibacterial. However, research shown that in combination they have a greater ability to reduce the growth of pathogenic bacteria which is due to the synergistic action of phenols and fatty acids found in the foods.
It has also been suggested that in combination these two foods may be a useful alternative treatment for upper respiratory tract infections or can be used alongside pharmaceutically prescribed antibiotics.
Serves 6 – 8
- 60g almond butter
- 100ml water
- ½ lemon, zest
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 garlic clove (peeled)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor and blitz until smooth. Check the seasoning before serving and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.