Rice and beans is a well-liked combination of foods that is not only delicious, but also good for you. Other well-known examples of food combinations, such as corn and lima beans (succotash), tomatoes and avocados, and even orange juice and oatmeal, provide benefits beyond those gained by eating these sound nutritional choices individually.1
For example, the combination of rice and beans provides complete dietary protein (containing all the essential amino acids we need to build all the other proteins in our bodies). Similarly, the succotash combination of lima beans and corn contains high concentrations of essential amino acids. When you combine avocados and tomatoes, the fat from the avocado helps your body more efficiently use heart-healthy and cancer-fighting antioxidants such as lycoprene contained in the tomato. A heart-healthy breakfast consisting of real oatmeal, such as oatmeal made from rolled oats or steel cut oats, and real orange juice (not from concentrate) provides a potent combination of phenols that are associated with reduced atherosclerosis and cancer. 2,3
These combinations are specific examples of the more general principle of food combining by which you combine proteins and complex carbohydrates at every meal. When you combine these complementary sources of nutrition on a regular basis, you retrain your body’s metabolism. By consuming a “slow-burning” energy source, you’re providing high-quality fuel for the next three to four hours. Several very good things occur as a result. Energy utilization is optimized, that is, your body gets more benefit out of every calorie it’s burning. Additionally, insulin levels are stabilized throughout the day. Over time, food combining helps a person become a leaner machine and helps reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. These benefits are especially important for people who have been told they are hypoglycemic or pre-diabetic. Of course, you should always check with your doctor to make sure a food combining strategy is right for you.
When you add a program of regular, vigorous exercise to your food combining lifestyle choice, you obtain even more profound benefits. The vigorous exercise you’re doing raises your body’s basal metabolic rate. Your body begins to burn calories even when you’re asleep. Owing to the increase in lean muscle mass you’re gaining from exercising over time, you’re burning more calories throughout the day. You find yourself craving more nutritious foods, that is, those that will provide higher-quality nutrition, such as the nutrition contained in such combinations as rice and beans and oatmeal and orange juice. Thus, your positive lifestyle choices contain their own positive feedback system. The better choices you make, the healthier you become, and the healthier you want to be. The long-term results are enhanced health and well being for you, your family, and your friends.
1Liu RH: Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr 4(3):384S-392S, 2013
2Hu D, et al: Fruits and vegetables consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Stroke 45(6):1613-1619, 2014
3Thomburg KL, Challis JR: How to build a healthy heart from scratch. Adv Exp Med Biol 814:205-216, 2014