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    Ask the Chef: Symbiotic Superfoods

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | July 20, 2015

    What are some symbiotic superfoods?

    Can combining certain foods actually enhance their nutrient absorption? The answer is a resounding yes.

    Like many things in the world, the human body relies upon symbiotic relationships to function properly. In terms of food, this is really just a fancy way of describing the beneficial interactions that occur between nutrients you consume every day. In fact, there are even a few amazing superfoods that contain both symbiotic nutrients at once! Check out some of the most important pairings that can enhance digestion and nourishment here.

    Vitamin C and Iron
    Many people struggle with iron deficiency, but did you know you can be anemic even while eating iron-rich foods? One type of iron, nonheme iron, isn't naturally absorbed well in the body, but vitamin C can help. (You get heme iron from meats and dairy products and nonheme iron from plant-based foods.)

    Needless to say, it's important to get plenty of vitamin C so that the iron consumed gets absorbed and utilized by the body. Some of the best foods that are rich in both vitamin C and iron are dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, or power berries like mulberries. Other vitamin-C rich foods, like lemons and camu, perfectly complement iron-rich foods, such as chickpeas and hemp seeds.

    Vitamins A, D, E, & K and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to nutrition that it's no surprise that they help our bodies get the most out of several essential vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins, so they can only be properly absorbed into the body with healthy fats by their side.

    For example, mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, and they pair well with healthy fatty foods like avocados and olives. Fuel your body with vitamins and omega-3s by enjoying a green juice mixed with a little flaxseed milk, or sprinkle some chia seeds on your next salad.

    Calcium and Fiber
    Calcium is the nutrient well known for building strong bones, but you can make use of more of that calcium if you pair it with certain types of fiber. Studies have shown that one type of soluble dietary fiber, known as inulin, helps boost calcium absorption in the body.

    Some of the best sources of inulin are bananas, asparagus, onions and garlic… or one of my favorites, the deliciously sweet yacon. Try sweetening your next calcium-rich chia fresca with a drizzle of yacon syrup for a nutritionally perfect combination!