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.
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.
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.
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.
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.