PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRIZIA SAVERESE/GETTY
We've all grown up learning that oatmeal and orange juice are breakfast foods, but why? Nutritionists are starting to realize that we like our oatmeal and OJ before we start the day because we evolved to like it that way—because enjoying the two together is healthier than eating each of them separately. Epidemiologist David R. Jacobs, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota calls it food synergy, and he, along with many other nutritionists, believes it might explain why Italians drizzle cold-pressed olive oil over tomatoes and why the Japanese pair raw fish with soybeans.
“The complexity of food combinations is fascinating because it’s tested in a way we can’t test drugs: by evolution,” says Jacobs. What’s more fascinating, however, is that the evolution between eater and eaten might answer the long-held question about why humans live longer, healthier lives on traditional diets. As researchers work to unravel the complexities of the interactions of the foods we eat, we present you with the most powerful food synergies currently known to science so you can plan to make the most of your meals and snacks.