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We’ve all heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But if you exercise regularly, another feast deserves front-page news—the one you eat post-workout. While researchers haven’t even begun to identify all the super combinations, they know these six power couples will give your health a boost.

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Boosting Your Nutrition

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By Matthew G. Kadey, RD

Batman and Robin, Seinfeld and Kramer, Britney Spears and gossip. Some pairs are just meant to be. And according to recent research, the same holds true for nutrients. Food synergy occurs when two or more nutrients “work together to achieve a health benefit that neither could produce on their own,” says David R. Jacobs, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. For example, mix tomatoes and broccoli in a soup, and their combined disease-fighting chemicals help ward off prostate cancer more effectively than if they went at it solo.

While researchers haven’t even begun to identify all the super combinations, they know these six power couples will give your health a boost.

1. Dynamic Duo for Bone Health: Calcium and Vitamin D
When it comes to osteoporosis, vitamin D is finally getting its day in the sun. “Vitamin D is the main regulator of bone-building calcium absorption,” says Steven Pratt, MD, author of SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health (William Morrow, 2005). That means you can down all the calcium-rich foods you want, but without a steady supply of vitamin D your bones won’t reap the full rewards. In fact, according to Susan E. Brown, PhD, director of the Osteoporosis Education Project, without enough vitamin D the body absorbs 65 percent less calcium. And the benefits of this combo extend beyond osteoporosis: Harvard Medical School researchers have determined that premenopausal women with the highest intakes of vitamin D and calcium have a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. According to the study’s lead author Jennifer Linn, “calcium and vitamin D may inhibit the adverse changes in mammary tissue resulting from compounds such as insulin-like growth factor.”

The Happy Couple: Wild Salmon and Yogurt

While a catching 10 minutes of rays each day will provide you with sufficient vitamin D, Pratt recommends sustainably harvested wild Alaskan sockeye salmon as a top food source for the nutrient. Furthermore, says Pratt, “many people don’t realize that the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon reduce inflammation that can also lead to osteoporosis.” Crunch on the bones found in the canned version, and you’ll ingest 20 percent of your daily calcium requirement as well. The next time you’re in a pinch for a lickety-split nutritious lunch Carol Fenster, PhD, president of the Savory Palate and author of Gluten-Free Quick and Easy (Avery, 2007) proposes mixing some calcium-rich yogurt with your salmon instead of mayonnaise, adding a squirt of lemon juice and a pinch of curry, and serving it between your favorite whole-grain bread for a sandwich that builds bone with each bite.

2. Dynamic Duo for Post-Workout Recovery: Carbohydrates and Protein

We’ve all heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But if you exercise regularly, another feast deserves front-page news—the one you eat post-workout. “Research clearly shows that consuming a...

Author: Matthew G. Kadey, RD

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