Thanks to Elaine Magee, MPH, RD for her WebMD post on nutrient synergy. We have summarized her key points about combining nutrients from whole foods, adding support for our recommendation that you avoid isolates. (The hyperlinks are Ms. Magee’s.)
- Broccoli and Tomatoes
From research: tumors grew much less in rats that were fed tomatoes and broccoli than in rats who ate diets containing broccoli alone or tomatoes alone, or diets that contained cancer-fighting substances that had been isolated from tomatoes or broccoli.
A lycopene supplement may not hurt, but the whole tomato will probably help more. And a tomato eaten with broccoli may help a lot more.
- Vitamin C, Vitamin E, isoflavones from soybeans and other compounds
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, isoflavones from soybeans and other compounds combine to slow oxidation of cholesterol.
Antioxidant protection is a complex system that includes many nutrients and You need all of them for maximum effect.
- Phytochemicals Quercetin and Catechin
Quercetin (apples, onions, berries) and catechin (apples, green tea, purple grapes, grape juice) together can help stop platelet clumping. Clumps can become clots and heart attacks.
- The Mediterranean-style diet
Food culture Mediterranean is a clean fresh taste that favors plants, olive oil, walnuts and fish to dairy and meat. From research: People who eat a Mediterranean style diet have lower risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease and death.
- Fat and Fat-Soluble Vitamins/Phytochemicals
From research: Two groups at spinach, carrot and lettuce salad. One group also ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of avocado with the salad. Those who ate avocado with the salad absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene and 13.6 times more beta-carotene, both of them cancer- and cardio-protective – and 4.3 times more lutein (positive for eye health) than no-avocado salad eaters.
Eating a little good fat, such as raw cream, cultured butter, olive, hemp, avocado, walnut, grape or other healthy oils and non-hydrogenated fats along with your vegetables helps your body absorb their protective phytochemicals, like lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from dark-green vegetables.
It is common knowledge that oats are cardio-protective but it’s not just the fiber. Oats contain immunomodulator beta-glucan; magnesium; folic acid; tocotrienols; and a phytochemical so far identified only in oats — avenanthramides.
The protective effect is almost certainly the collective effects of all of these compounds.
- Apple and Skin
- Apple with apple skin was better at preventing oxidation of free radicals than apple without the skin. Also, the catechins in apple plus phytochemicals from other plants had an even better punch against free radicals.
In my opinion, Ms. Magee says, Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she created plant foods: There is magic in the packaging.