So THAT's Why Food Pairings Matter So Much

A doctor weighs in on the topic.
Vladislav Nosick / 500px via Getty Images

If (like me) you love food, you’ll probably already know that some combinations are unbeatable.

Chocolate and hazelnut (which Paul Hollywood somehow gets amazed by every year of GBBO)? Amazing. Lime and coconut? A dream! I’m even a fan of the criminally underused salt and grapefruit combo (don’t knock it ’til you try it, people).

But according to Dr. Karan Raj, a doctor who’s known for debunking common medical misunderstandings and sharing his knowledge on TikTok, what you pair with could be as important for your health as it is for your tastebuds.

He begins his TikTok by explaining that pairing olive oil with spinach helps you to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the leaves.

“If you eat your salmon with leafy greens, then the salmon can boost the absorption of calcium in the leafy greens by about 50%,” he adds.

Here’s why food pairings matter ― and what you can do to improve yours.

Remember when we said “fat-soluble”?

Yeah, that’s a common trait among the vitamins in many fruits and veg.

Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning you’ll get the most out of them when you combine ’em with fats ― vitamin C and all the B vitamins are water-soluble.

And while there may be enough water in your fruits and veggies to set their good bits free, most fruits and vegetables have very low ― or no ― amounts of fats.

It’s not just about vitamins, either. Probiotics ― the living cultures in foods that help your gut health ― and gut-healthy prebiotic fibres can make friends, too.

For instance, “if you add berries to your yoghurt, then the combination of probiotics in the yoghurt and the prebiotic fibres and antioxidants in the berries can promote the activity of beneficial gut bacteria,” the doctor added.

Jeez. Anything else?

Yes! Dr. Raj also added that the piperine in black pepper can help to bring out the potentially anti-inflammatory curcumin in turmeric, and that the vitamin C in bell peppers can max your absorption of the non-heme iron in beans. The same goes with strawberries and cereals and oranges and nuts, he adds.

It’s not just vitamins that can be fat-soluble, either ― Dr. Raj says that the fats in avocados can bring out antioxidants in tomatoes.

You might have noticed that a lot of these are common enough pairings as it is (OJ with your avocado toast? Bell peppers in your rice and beans? A bit of pepper in your curry? All classics).

So, don’t be afraid to enjoy your meals in all their combined glory ― it really is good for you.

You can watch the entire video here:

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