BAKED POTATO + SPINACH
WHAT IT DOES Boosts iron absorption
THE SCIENCE Iron transports oxygen in the blood. Low iron levels can lead to anemia, which may cause fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. The body absorbs as little as 2% of iron from plant foods, compared to 25% from meat sources. But, eating plant-based iron sources like spinach with a good Vitamin C source such as a potato (contains nearly half your Daily Value) leads to a chemical reaction that will increase iron absorption.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER Eat a baked potato and a baby spinach salad with dinner. As an alternative, make a stir-fry with red and green bell peppers (one cup contains nearly 200% Daily Value of Vitamin C), and tofu, edamame, and kale (all great sources of iron).
RED PEPPER + FETA CHEESE
WHAT IT DOES Cuts risk of heart-disease
THE SCIENCE Brightly colored vegetables (red peppers, tomatoes, carrots) are rich in carotenoids, powerful plant pigments that help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Adding a bit of fat, and these vegetables get even better. Recent research indicates that fat helps carotenoids become more soluble so they more readily absorbed in the intestine and passed into the bloodstream. One study found that people who ate a salad topped with avocado absorbed up to five times more carotenoids than those who ate a salad with non-fat dressing.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER Top your salad with a little fat; feta cheese, avocado, or dressing. Or sauté vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil or a small amount of butter.
ROSEMARY + BEEF
WHAT IT DOES Reduces compounds in grilled red meat that may cause cancer
THE SCIENCE Recent research indicates that that antioxidants in rosemary inhibit the formation of carcinogenic compounds called heterocylic amines (HCAs) that form when meat, fish, or poultry are cooked at high temperatures. The herb reduces the level of the potentially harmful substance by more that half.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER Add rosemary to dry rubs or marinades, or mix into hamburger meat. Basil, oregano, sage, and mint can also protect against harmful HCAs.
BROCCOLI + FISH + TOMATO
WHAT IT DOES Slows cancer cell growth
THE SCIENCE Fish contains lots of selenium (a mineral that raises levels of a cancer fighting enzyme); broccoli has sulforaphane (a chemical that boosts the same enzyme). When the two nutrients were combined, scientists found that the pairing was 13 times more effective at slowing cancer-cell growth that when each was consumed individually. Adding tomatoes shows that prostate tumors grow less in males that eat broccoli and tomatoes in tandem rather than separately.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER Eat your grilled halibut, salmon, or tuna topped with tomato salsa and a sine of steamed broccoli. Other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage or cauliflower may also provide similar benefits.
OATMEAL + STRAWBERRIES
WHAT IT DOES Lowers the likelihood of stroke or heart attack
THE SCIENCE Oats are high in antioxidants called phenols, which keep free radicals from damaging LDL (“BAD” cholesterol). The more stable LDL is the less likely it is to stick to artery walls and cause a stroke or heart attack. Recent research has shown that these phenols are even more effective in the presence of Vitamin C—1 cup of strawberries provides more that 100% of your Daily Value.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER Have a bowl of oatmeal topped with strawberries. Or instead of strawberries have a cup of OJ to get the same benefit.