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Food Science (the study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food) is one of the most intriguing aspects of nutritional science. Science recognizes the fact that the biochemistry of our bodies directly corresponds to the chemicals in food.  The evolution of eating started with the statement: “of every plant yielding seed and every tree which has fruit yielding seed it shall be food for you.”  Food was created to sustain and maintain the health and lively hood of our bodies.  It is not by chance that the same Creator who designed the biochemical formulation of man also created the same composition within the food. Hence you have been what you eat from the beginning of time. Thus, we eat to live rather than live to eat.

Food Scientists define food as being a complex nonrandom collection of molecules created for the life of the organism which eats it.  Current research admits the complexity is extensive and there are numerous bioactive substances in food which are unidentifiable.   However, evidence-based research also shows that these specific bioactive chemicals in food such as phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and fats interact better with “each other” rather than along.  Consuming various foods together provides our bodies with maximum disease protection resulting in a higher level of health and well-being.   This description is known as the synergic effects of food.  Here are a few examples of Food Synergy:

  • Tomatoes and Oil: The most important phytochemical (antioxidant) in tomatoes is “lycopene.”  Nutritional benefit: prevention of prostate cancers and studies are showing progress with breast cancer as well. Synergy: Ninety-eight percent of the lycopene is on the skin, and absorption is greater by cooking the tomatoes with the addition of any type of oil i.e., olive with skin intact.  Tomatoes + Oil = Synergy
  • Broccoli and Tomatoes: Broccoli rich in Phytochemicals such as glucobrassicins and carotenoids. Nutritional benefit: reduce tumors.  Synergy:  according to new research, Broccoli, when eaten with tomatoes, prevents incurable prostate cancer in rats.  Broccoli + Tomatoes = Synergy
  • Blueberries and Grapes: Blueberries and Grapes are both rich in the phytochemical Anthocyanins. Nutritional benefit:  Anthocyanins protect DNA cells by trapping free radicals inhibiting the formation of carcinogens. For example, animal studies have shown a decrease in estrogen-induced mammary cancer and DNA damage. Synergy: By eating Blueberries and Grapes together provides more protection from cancer and DNA damage than eating the two separates. Blueberries + Grapes = Synergy.
  • Apples and Green Tea: The phytochemicals in apples are flavonoids – quercetin located on the skin of the apple.  Nutritional benefit:  Acts as an anti-inflammatory on the body and has shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, Alzheimer’s, and both prostate and lung cancers.  Green Tea, chocolates, red wine are high in a group of phytochemicals known as Catechins.  Catechins help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cancer.  When the two are together, it increases the anti-inflammatory effects and cancer protection.  Apples + Green Tea = Synergy.
  • Turmeric & Black Pepper: The phytochemical in turmeric is a Polyphenol called Curcumin; it is the bioactive form of turmeric.  Nutritional benefit: Curcumin carries anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties, and tumor-fighting activities.   When taking turmeric supplements or cooking with turmeric, the anti-inflammatory effects require the addition of Black Pepper for activation.  Black Pepper contains a bioactive compound known as Piperine.  Piperine stimulates the release of the anti-cancer properties of Curcumin.  Taken together increases the absorption of Curcumin by 1,000 times.  Turmeric + Black Pepper = Synergy

To summarize, eat the rainbow; by doing so, your body will receive the essential phytochemicals, micronutrients, and other beneficial bioactive chemicals to maintain health.   If you are interested in achieving the benefits of food synergy, follow the guidelines of the Mediterranean Style of eating or the DASH Diet.  These diets offer a variety of plant-base food combinations designed to provide the full synergic effect of food.

 No one can whistle a Symphony; it takes a whole orchestra to play It = Synergy.