Vegan Food Combining: Healthy Plant-Based Combinations For Vegans

How To Get More Nutrients By Food Combining

As a vegan, it’s important to understand nutrients and nutrient absorption to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins you need to be healthy.

The old school thoughts on food combining aren’t scientifically backed but there are many studies that prove that when some foods are paired together, they make more nutrients available for your body to absorb.

Keep reading for the best vegan food combining tips and some of my favorite food combinations that are great for both vegans and non-vegans.

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healthy vegan produce, nuts, and grains piled together

What Is Food Combining?

Traditionally, food combining was the idea that certain foods pair well together and others do not. In the past, it was thought that improperly combined foods would have negative health consequences.

This is simply not the case and is not backed up by scientific research. For example, eating melon on a full stomach is not going to make you sick like food combining guidance thought.

Science has come a long way in studying digestive health so all of the old reasons for combining food have been debunked.

Nevertheless, certain foods do work well together for nutrient absorption or enhancing the nutritional profiles and that’s what I’m talking about here. Below you’ll see healthy plant-based power food combos that you can incorporate into many meals.

12 Best Power Food Combinations For Vegans

These vegan food pairings amplify the taste and often the nutrient absorption of your meals. They also complement one another’s flavors well.

1. Rice and Beans

By combining legumes or beans with rice, you get all of the amino acids needed to create a complete protein. As a vegan who is getting all of their protein from plant-based sources, this is important to know.

I like to pair lentils and rice for a delicious Mediterranean side. If you can’t get both beans and rice in the same meal, don’t worry. Your body is able to pair up amino acids from multiple meals. (study)

2. Turmeric and Black Pepper

Turmeric is full of the antioxidant curcumin which gives it it’s yellow hue. Curcumin has been scientifically linked to many benefits throughout our bodies.

The problem is that this property of turmeric can’t be easily absorbed. By pairing turmeric with black pepper, it increases your body’s ability to absorb curcumin by 2000%. (study)

3. Leafy Greens and Tomatoes

The combination of leafy greens you can use with tomatoes are numerous. One of my favorites is tomato sauce with spinach.

While leafy greens are full of iron, it isn’t easily absorbed in our bodies without vitamin C. (study) That’s where tomatoes come to the rescue. They’re packed with vitamin C and help with iron absorption.

Some other tasty iron/vitamin C combinations are kale salad with strawberries or Swiss chard with roasted red peppers.

4. Oatmeal and Water

Oatmeal is full of the fiber beta-glucan which is shown to reduce cholesterol (study) Oats also are a good source of plant-based protein compared to other grains.

Oats require a lot of water in order to be fully cooked and deliver all of their health benefits. Oat fiber has been show to help keep you full longer.

If you’re always hungry, check out these tips for staying full on a vegan diet.

5. Green Tea and Lemon

The vitamin C in lemon increases the number of catechins of green tea that are available for absorption. (study) Catechins are what give green tea its numerous health benefits.

This food combination is also delicious and easy to incorporate into your daily cup of green tea.

6. Avocado and Toast

Avocado toast is one of my go-to snacks and I was so glad to find out about the health benefits of this tasty combo.

The fats from the avocado slow down the rate that carbohydrates from your toast are broken down and converted into sugar. (study) It’s even more healthy when you opt for whole-grain toast.

7. Garlic & Onion with Brown Rice

Garlic and onion work with whole grains, such as brown rice, to increase the bioavailability of zinc and iron (study)

A vegetable stir fry is an easy way to combine all of these delicious ingredients. Stir fry can be healthy as long as you limit the oil you cook it in. The addition of all the extra vegetables greatly increases the dish’s nutrient profile.

8. Salsa and Guacamole

Tomatoes are full of lycopene and beta-carotene, which are important for your body’s vitamin A production.

By adding a plant-based fat, like guacamole, to your salsa, you’re increasing the availability of lycopene by 4.4 times and beta-carotene by 2.6 times. (study)

9. Black Pepper and Red Wine

For responsible adults, having a small glass of red wine with your meal that contains pepper is a food combination to increase the absorption of resveratrol from the wine. (study)

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine which is what helps with increased absorption. Resveratrol has many documented health benefits including reducing free radicals and cardioprotective effects.

10. Dried Fruits and Nuts

Combining dried fruits with nuts is popular with trail mix, and for good reason. Nuts and fruits work together for your metabolic health. (study)

You can dehydrate your own fruits or buy already dried fruits to mix with your favorite nuts. If buying raisins or other fruits, keep them healthier by making sure they don’t have added sugars.

11. Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Cooked tomatoes have the highest source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce blood pressure. (study)

To increase the amount of lycopene availability in tomato sauce, pair cooked tomatoes with a fat source, such as olive oil. Olive oil is popular in the Mediterranean diet and it’s the oil’s oleic acid that’s thought to have protective effects.

12. Kombu and Dried Beans

Kombu is a sea vegetable that is full of vitamins and a great source of iodine. Here is the one I use. I prefer seaweed harvested off the coast of Maine since the water is cleaner than elsewhere in the world.

There aren’t a lot of scientific studies about kombu yet but I add a one-inch piece of kombu to dried beans while they’re cooking. It’s supposed to help break down the raffinose sugars that cause gas.

Seaweed absorbs a lot of heavy metals if they’re present so it’s important to know where your sea vegetables come from. It’s also recommended that pregnant women check with their doctors before consuming seaweed.


Food combining for vegans is actually pretty easy. Many plant-based recipes already use some of these healthy combinations.

By trying to add additional food pairings to your diet, you’ll be able to increase your nutrient absorption so that you get the maximum benefits from your fruits and vegetables.

If you’ve tried some of these out, let me know which ones are your favorite.

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Stephanie Mantilla

Plant-Based Diet & Vegan Lifestyle Expert

Stephanie is the founder of Plant Prosperous, a plant-based vegan living, and parenting blog. She has been eating a plant-based diet for over 24 years along with a B.S. in Biology & Environmental Science. She also has over 14 years of experience working in the environmental and conservation sectors. Stephanie is currently raising her son on a plant-based diet and hopes to help others who are wanting to do the same. You can read more about her here.

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