- Black beans are a good source of iron. Thing is, the iron in plant foods, known as non-heme iron, isn't as readily absorbed as the iron you'll find in meat.That's where vitamin C-rich foods, like red bell pepper, come in. They can increase the absorption of non-heme iron by six times. Try black bean tacos topped with sautéed red bell peppers.
This pairing won't just satisfy your sweet tooth. Together, dark chocolate and apples have the potential to improve cardiovascular health. Even more reason to start dipping your apple slices in a little chocolate goodness.
You already know that olive oil is a heart-healthy fat shown to boost "good" HDL cholesterol and lower "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog your arteries. When paired with tomatoes, though, it has even more superpowers. Researchers found that olive oil raised the antioxidant activity of the lycopene in tomatoes. There are numerous delicious combinations, including bruschetta, roasted red pepper pesto, or simply sautéing tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and herbs to toss with lean protein and a small portion of whole grain pasta.
- Forget adding honey to green tea. Research shows you may be better off sprinkling in some black pepper. Don't want your tea to have a spicy kick? Use the pair to soak meat or seafood. Brewed tea with garlic, ginger, and black pepper makes a perfect marinade.
- To get the most out of your calcium intake, consuming enough vitamin D is key. Bare skin exposed to sunlight triggers vitamin D production in your body, but you can also get it by eating certain foods, including salmon. Grilling the fish over a bed of sautéed collard greens, which just happen to be rich in bone-boosting calcium.
- Like beans, the iron and zinc you find in whole grains get metabolized faster than your body can absorb them. But research shows that sulfur-rich foods, such as garlic and onion, could make whole grains even more nutritious. A 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the addition of garlic and onion to cooked or raw food grains enhanced the accessibility of iron and zinc in both cases. Pair the two by baking onions or garlic right into bread or try adding a generous serving of onions to your sandwich.