Everyday we strive to eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables to enhance our health. However, our bodies do not absorb all the nutrients that food has to offer; our digestive system breaks down and destroys nutrients before our bodies can use them. The amount of nutrients that are actually available and absorbed in our system is called bioavailability.
Bioavailability, with the respect to food, means “body ready”. Understanding how different foods react when paired together will help us provide our bodies with the nutrition it needs.
Nutrients from some foods need a little extra help in order for the body to absorb them efficiently. For example, the typical salad is prepared with raw vegetables that are loaded with nutrients like lypocene, beta-carotene, and lutein, all cancer fighting carotenoids; however, they are fat-soluble, meaning they need a little fat with them to be absorbed by the body. So the next time you are eating a salad, add is some healthy fat such as avocado, nuts or and oil and vinegar based dressing.
Here are a few other examples:
- Your tomatoes are full of lypocene; however, if you boil them, or used canned tomatoes, the lypocene becomes 5-6 times stronger. When cooked, the lypocene is transformed into trans-lypocene, which is much more readily absorbed by the body.
- Like your watermelon cold or room temperature? Watermelon that has been stored at room temperature has up to 40 percent more lypocene and up to 139 percent, more beta-carotene than it does if it is stored at a cold temperature.
- Steam your foods instead of boiling them. Boiling your vegetables leaches out the flavonoids. Flavonoids are the antioxidant compounds that give vegetables their bright colors and activate the body’s DNA repair system.
- Spices also help with nutrient absorption. Black pepper contains piperine, with increases the bioavailability of nutrients. It can also act as an anti-depressant, a pain reliever, and boost brain functioning.
- Add a squirt of lemon to your tea. Lemon juice can increase the amount of catechins your body will absorb.
The foods we eat do affect our bodies, for good or for bad. By eating a healthy diet of whole natural foods and healthy fats, we can help our bodies be more efficient at absorbing disease-fighting antioxidants.