Easy tips for smarter eating


It’s easy to become obsessed or overwhelmed about what to eat, but with academics beginning to agree that real food is more than just the sum of its nutrients, if we adopt some simple rules it can be quite straightforward. Studies indicate that the beneficial effect of nutrients is from the food itself and from the combinations of nutrients and other chemical compounds that are part of the food’s matrix. This is further compounded by combining foods as food is more than just the sum of individual nutrients.

In simple terms the more variety of real food in our diets the better, while certain food combinations will help maximise the release and absorption of nutritional goodness. So, cut down on highly processed foods and start to max out on real food, introducing variety across the day, week and month. Simple practical choices offer the best chance of success.

Eight food combinations for smarter eating
  1. When it comes to getting the most out of dark green leafy vegetables such as rocket, spinach, kale and chard:
    • Consume them with healthy fats, such as olive oil or nuts and seeds, as vitamins A D E and K are fat soluble vitamins
  2. To reap the full benefits of iron from plant-based foods such as spinach:
    • Consume with foods high in vitamin C such as red peppers – or add lemon vinaigrette to a spinach salad
  3. For optimal iron absorption, don’t consume iron rich foods with caffeine (tea/coffee) and calcium (dairy) as these are iron inhibitors
  4. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in, amongst others, tomatoes and watermelon, but to optimise nutritional benefits lycopene should be consumed with fat, as it will help the digestive tract to absorb it better
    • Try a tomato and avocado salsa
  5. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are two essential nutrients, with deficiencies in either having the potential to create serious health risks. Foods containing them are made for each other:
    • legumes, egg yolks, dark green leafy veg + animal products rich in vitamin B12 – meat, fish, dairy, eggs. Combined they work together in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells
  6. Rosemary can aid in fighting cancer causing chemicals from forming during cooking:
    • Mix rosemary with your stews and roasts – just a smidgen is all that is needed
  7. Broccoli and tomatoes are a cancer fighting power pair, as different bioactive compounds in each food work on a different anti-cancer pathway, according to the University of Illinois
  8. Turmeric has a number of health benefits, such as protecting the body from developing diabetes, but use it with black pepper: this increases the bioavailability of curcumin, the dominant compound in turmeric

So there you have it, smarter eating made easy!

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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