I've heard of food pairings in China that when eaten together are supposed to be extremely bad for you due to the imbalance of "hot" and "cold" food and yin and yang but I always thought it was a load of rubbish particularly after I read an article by a foreigner who challenged himself to try all the different combinations that were supposed to be bad for you and ...shock horror... nothing happened to him. But I never realized that eating certain foods together is actually healthier in certain cases.
Research has proven that certain foods become healthier when consumed in combination. The science behind it is that foods that taste great together also interact with one another positively resulting in more nutritional value than if they were eaten on their own. It's a phenomenon known as "food synergy" and might also explain why we crave certain foods together e.g. red wine and apples and tomatoes with olive oil... or even avocado with chicken (although I think that's maybe just me). The idea is that the foods join forces to protect and nourish our bodies.
The article gives a list of ten food combos. I won't go into them all here, you can check out the full article at the source below, but here are a few of the most interesting...
Firstly Spinach and Beets is a winning combination. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale pair well with veggies high in Vitamin C such as beets (or tomatoes) because your intestines absorb iron better with the help of vitamin C. So time to start noshing down on plenty of spinach salad... I imagine the spinach is better for you when eaten raw.
Believe it or not, beef and carrots is also a good combo because the vitamin A in carrots is more easily absorbed when bound to the protein present in red meat. Garlic and fish is also a match made in heaven as the merging of cholesterol-reducing fish oils and heart-healthy garlic can act as an inflammatory agent. (I also read somewhere else recently that garlic is avoided by yogis as and some ethnic minority tribes as it's believed to hinder spirituality.)
I was also delighted to discover that Orange juice and oatmeal is also a good mix which is great because I eat that every day for breakfast during the winter. The combination reduces the risk of heart attacks and cleans arteries twice as effectively. The organic compounds known as phenols (found in both) stabilize cholesterol levels when consumed together. Obviously stick to freshly squeezed orange juice (not Sunny D) and fresh porridge oats, not the processed instant variety that's full of sugar.
The article also talks about some food pairings that are supposedly bad for your health (although in a different way to Chinese traditions). One is coffee and eggs! The potent polyphenols found in coffee actually reduce iron absorption from the eggs and decrease calcium in your bones. I was disappointed to read that as it's my staple hangover cure. No wonder I never feel any better after it...