We know combining certain foods increases their nutritional impact. What can be better than that? The concept is called food synergy, and it's a big, fancy term for making good food work better for you.
Here are five nutritional power combos that will help you jump higher, run faster and recover quicker.
1. Spinach and Strawberries
Fresh spinach, which contains a substantial amount of iron, is even better for you when you pair it with fresh strawberries on a salad. Iron is a necessary component of myoglobin, a part of our red blood cells that transports oxygen to other cells. The more oxygen you have, the longer you can continue your aerobic activity. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, an antioxidant necessary for repairing oxidative damage following exercise. The vitamin C in strawberries also help your body absorb iron more efficiently.
2. Tomatoes and Olive Oil
Tomatoes are high in the fat-soluble antioxidants lycopene and carotenoids, which reduce free radicals in the body and repair cellular damage after activity. They pair perfectly with heart-healthy extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, which controls cholesterol and blood pressure. A component in EVOO called oleocanthal has been shown in research studies to be almost as effective as anti-steroidal medications at reducing inflammation. Less inflammation means quicker recovery time after injury.
3. Fish and Curry Powder
Fish, specifically cold water varieties such as salmon and sardines, are high in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which may improve cognitive health and speed reaction time during exercise. When combined with curry, a spice that reduces inflammation, it packs more nutritional bang for your buck for recovery and long-term health.
4. Pasta and Balsamic Vinegar
Whole-grain pasta, a low glycemic-index food, can provide longer-lasting energy for endurance events. Balsamic vinegar, low in fat and added sugar, improves satiety in your post-workout recovery meal. Take my advice: splurge on a really good bottle of barrel-aged balsamic vinegar—you will use much less and get tons of flavor.
5. Yogurt and Almonds
This is the yin-yang combination. The prebiotics and healthy fat in almonds are a great starting point to digestive health—and the yogurt offers probiotics, the bacterial warriors that eliminate harmful bacteria in your gut.
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