Food synergy: The secret food combos you need for a diet boost – India Today

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It’s 2024, and we all want to eat healthy! Be it only for Instagram, but we deserve credit for trying.

While social media is abuzz with different diets and people are going crazy about the no-oil cooking method, there actually is a simpler way to eat healthily, and that’s food synergy.

Like how Tom completes Jerry, many foods are more effective when consumed together. Combining certain foods enhances their nutritional benefits and absorption of essential compounds.

But why do some foods perform better when consumed together?


“Certain combinations enhance nutrient absorption, optimise digestion, and even boost flavour,” clinical nutritionist Sangeeta Tiwari from Artemis Lite NFC tells India Today.

For example, pairing Vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich ones improves iron absorption. Complementary nutrients and enzymes work synergistically, aiding each other’s absorption and utilisation in the body.

Combining foods with diverse textures and flavours can make meals more satisfying, resulting in better satiety and nutrient intake.

Food synergy claims that the combined health benefits of two foods are larger than individual (Photo: Pexels/Alexy Almond)

“Think of nutrition like a puzzle, where each food brings its unique piece to the table. But when you fit them together just right, magic happens,” celebrity nutritionist Suman Agarwal goes on to share.

“Nutrition isn’t just about what you eat, but how you pair it. This synergy arises from the presence of specific nutrients in each food item that may be lacking in the other, resulting in a more balanced and nutritionally rich meal,” she adds.

Further, explaining the science behind food synergy, Chaitali Rajendra Rane, clinical dietitian at PD Hinduja Hospital, shares that it is all about the phytochemicals present in the foods being consumed together.

When these phytochemicals interact together, they form a synergy and the nutritional value and absorption at the cellular level increase.

Food pairings you must try

Sangeeta Tiwari shares some foods that work better together:


  • Spinach and lemon juice: The Vitamin C in lemon juice enhances the absorption of iron from spinach, boosting iron levels and supporting proper blood production.
  • Tomatoes and olive oil: The fat in olive oil helps the body absorb lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, promoting heart health and reducing the risk of certain types of cancers.
  • Yoghurt and berries: Probiotics in yoghurt, when combined with the fibre and antioxidants in berries, support gut health and immune function. Not only this, they also provide a very tasty and nutritious snack option.
  • Oats and almonds: The combination of soluble fibre in oats and healthy fats in almonds helps stabilise blood sugar levels, keeps the stomach full for a longer time, preventing unnecessary eating, and supports heart health.
The oats and almonds combo is an excellent choice for breakfast or a snack (Photo: Pexels/Jana Ohajdova)

Here are food combinations approved by Suman Agarwal:


  • Onion and chickpea (for energy): Power-packed with fibre and nutrients, chickpeas and onions play a major role in giving energy. Onions stimulate the activity of amino acids in chickpeas and, in turn, help in giving energy.
  • Green tea and lemon (for a healthy heart): Green tea is rich in antioxidants, and lemon has the power of Vitamin C. Both these antioxidants fight oxidative stress and prevent plaque formation, giving better heart health.
  • Yoghurt and banana (for post-workout strength): This deadly combination of youthful yoghurt and banana can repair and rebuild muscles and energy post-workout. Yoghurt is packed with proteins that help preserve muscle mass. Banana, on the other hand, is packed with carbohydrates that help refuel energy and prevent muscle soreness.
After workout, depend on yoghurt and banana for an energy boost (Photo: Pexels/Amnah Mohammad)

Meanwhile, Chaitali Rajendra Rane also suggests some food pairing to try for better health:


  • Boiled egg with salad: Eating boiled eggs with salad like tomatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables is suggested as egg yolk increases the absorption of carotenoids.
  • Onion and garlic: Onion and garlic are suggested to be consumed together as they help improve insulin sensitivity in conditions like diabetes mellitus.
  • Turmeric and black pepper along with fish: Mixing black pepper and turmeric as a marinade and applying that on fish as a marination is suggested to reduce oxidative stress in the body. When black pepper and turmeric are mixed, piperine increases the bioavailability of curcumin to 1,000 times.
Eating black pepper and turmeric together can be beneficial (Photo: Getty Images)

But before trying these food combinations, remember…

  • Portion control: Even though certain combinations offer health benefits, consuming them in moderation is necessary to maintain a balanced diet and prevent overeating.
  • Quality of ingredients: Choose fresh, whole foods whenever possible to ensure you’re getting the maximum nutritional value from your food combinations.
  • Personal dietary needs: Be mindful of any dietary restrictions or allergies that you may have while choosing food combinations to ensure that they align with your individual health goals and requirements and don’t cause any harm.
  • Maintain balance: Don’t just solely depend on specific combinations for all your nutritional needs. Make sure that you have a balanced diet that is rich in all the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
  • Food safety: Pay attention to food hygiene and safety practices to minimise the risk of food-borne diseases, especially when you are consuming raw or minimally processed ingredients.
  • Timing: Pay attention to the timing of meals to support digestion and nutrient absorption.
Food synergy is good for you, but you need to be careful (Photo: Pexels/Nathan Cowley)

What to avoid

Experts suggest that you should never consume highly processed foods with sugary beverages as they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Not just this, but eating fruits with starchy foods like bread, pasta, or rice can result in digestive discomfort. The same can also happen if you consume dairy products with acidic foods.

Apart from this, consuming high-protein foods with calcium-rich foods like dairy products can inhibit calcium absorption. It is also advised to consume iron supplements or iron-rich foods separately from calcium-rich foods or beverages to maximise iron absorption.

Steer clear from:

  • Mango and cucumber: This combination may cause abdominal discomfort and indigestion due to differences in digestion times and incompatible enzymes.
  • Milk and dal: The combination of milk and dal can lead to indigestion and bloating, as the proteins in milk may interfere with the digestion of lentils.
  • Milk and fish: As the potencies of milk and fish are different, consuming them together may cause a risk of skin disorders like psoriasis if consumed for a prolonged period.
  • Milk and salty snacks: Salty foods like chips and cream sauces should not be consumed together as the salt curdles the milk, reducing its potencies. This can lead to acidity.
  • Fish and mustard oil: Avoid cooking fish or pork in mustard oil as it contains erucic acid which reduces the health benefits of fish when cooked in it.

Published By:

Mehak Malhotra

Published On:

Mar 13, 2024

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

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