Get More Nutrients From Your Food: Bioavailability

Posted Fri, 11/21/2008 - 2:49pm by Lynn Truong

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Not everything we eat gets absorbed and used by our body.  Our digestive process destroys and degrades nutrients before our body can use it.  The amount of nutrients that is actually absorbed in our system is called bioavailability.  Understanding how different foods react with one another can help you get more nutrients from your meal.

Add lemon to your tea
Adding a squirt of lemon to green tea can increase the amount of catechins your body will absorb.  Catechins are one of the many health-promoting qualities in green tea, but is unstable in environments like our intestines. Less than 20 percent remain after digestion. Adding lemon juice caused 80 percent of the catechins to remain. [Citrus Juice, Vitamin C Give Staying Power To Green Tea Antioxidants (Science Daily)]

Have OJ with your meal
Iron found in red meat (haem iron) is readily absorbed in the body. However, the iron found in other sources, like spinach, contains non-haem iron which is not as readily absorbed.  Having something like orange juice (or anything with vitamin C) with your meal changes the non-haem iron to heam iron.  It's important to know too that the phenols found in tea and coffee, and calcium in dairy products inhibit iron absorption, and shouldn't be consumed in conjunction with iron rich foods (this includes eggs). [Getting the best out of your food {BBC News)]

Cook your tomatoes and carrots
Tomatoes have lycopene, a great antioxidant that is much better absorbed when cooked.  Fresh tomatoes have a total antioxidant potential of about 80. But boil or can them, and the antioxidant potential goes up five or six-fold. This happens because the lycopene in the raw tomato has been transformed to trans-lycopene in the cooked version, and trans-lycopene is much more readily absorbed. The downside is that vitamin C is degraded when cooked. Additionally, cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene, another form of antioxidant, more available as well. [Getting the best out of your food (BBC News)]

Put some fat in your salad
Fat-soluble nutrients like lycopene, beta carotene, and lutein needs a little help getting absorbed into your system, specifically from fat. This applies the most to salads because the vegetables aren't prepared with anything except the dressing, and a study shows that the best dressing to use is actually not the fat-free kind. This doesn't mean drenching your salad in fatty dressing, but making sure to use natural and healthy fats so it doesn't become a counterproductive strategy. Adding healthy fats like avocado and olive oil into your salad will raise the nutrient levels effectively without raising your weight or cholesterol levels at the same time. [A Little Fat Helps the Vegetables Go Down (WebMD)]

Black pepper isn't just for seasoning
Sprinkling a dash of black pepper does more than please your taste buds. The piperine in it increases the bioavailability of many substances through a bunch of cool processes, which results in more nutrients reaching your cells.  Not only that, but did you know piperine can act as an anti-depressant, pain reliever, and antacid, boost brain functioning, and help you sleep?!  Can someone please pass the pepper STAT! [Substance in Black Pepper Increases Nutrient Absorption up to Two Thousand Percent (Natural News)]

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 This is a wonderful post.

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 This is a wonderful post. I never knew any of this! It's especially important this time of year when fresh nutrients are at a premium--who wants to waste those antioxidants, catechins, beta carotenes?

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