Same foods, more nutrients

You don’t have to overhaul your diet to ramp up your nutrition. These five tweaks can enhance the way your body absorbs vitaminsminerals, and antioxidants.

Slow down.

When you eat, your mouth releases the enzyme salivary amylase to break down carbohydrates and ensure proper digestion, says Tracy Lockwood, R.D., a New York City-based nutritionist. If you're eating too fast, you're not chewing your food enough to allow the enzyme to work, which means you won't absorb all the nutrients.

Dress your vegetables.

Fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K, as well as antioxidants like carotenoids, need fat to be properly absorbed in the body, research shows. Add olive oil, avocado, or nuts to your favorite vegetables or salad.

Go raw (or cook it quickly).

This best preserves the nutrients in produce, says Bethany Snodgrass, operations manager for the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in New York City and a holistic health coach. Instead of roasting those vegetables, try steaming them.

Add C to Fe.

The iron in plant-based foods (spinach and lentils, for example) is less accessible by the body compared to the iron found in meat. Pairing these foods with vitamin C can improve absorption. Try topping your spinach salad with strawberries or lentils with a lemon juice-based vinaigrette.

Kick up the spice.

White pepper contains a compound called piperine, which increases nutrient absorption. Try making a seasoning blend like Penja, and use it on seafood, fish, and veggie dishes.