1. Use the magic of synergy by combining certain foods together (as seen in this graphic). Vitamin C-rich foods help absorb iron, so eat them together. Some ways to do so are to have a green salad with bell peppers or citrus dressing, drink a green smoothie with some fruit, or make hummus with beans and lemon juice. Include a healthy source of fat with fat-soluble vitamins, such as a garnet yam with a peanut sauce or salsa with guacamole.
2. Eat a wide variety of different whole plant foods. For example, some leafy greens contain higher amounts of oxalates (which may decrease absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium), while others do not. Low oxalate greens include bok choy, cabbage, some types of kale, and most lettuce. Mixing up the types of greens (and other foods) you eat will provide different nutritional profiles and ensure a broader absorption of those nutrients.
3. Maximize intake of raw foods, but include cooked foods as well. Raw foods have nutrients and certain enzymes that have health benefits, but which are lost by heat, such as vitamin C (in most fruits and vegetables), myrosinase (in cruciferous veggies), and aliinase (in vegetables of the allium family). However, certain nutrients are better absorbed when cooked, like those in the carotenoid family. Incorporate both into your diet.
4. Try food preparation methods that enhance bioavailability of nutrients, including soaking (and sprouting) of nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. This breaks down phytates and activates plant enzymes so nutrients are well absorbed.
5. Help break down nutrients with blending or juicing so all of the nutrients are released from the cell walls and are easier to absorb. Sometimes, we don’t chew our food well enough, leaving certain nutrients trapped so as to pass straight through the digestive tract without gaining their benefit. Thus, incorporating green smoothies, pureed soups, or green juices is beneficial.
My article on One Green Planet, The Real Deal on Kale and Your Thyroid
Juicing Versus Blending
Healthy Fat Intake
NutritionFacts.org on Food Synergy
NutritionFacts.org on Nutrient Absorption
YumUniverse™ on Soaking and Dehydrating
Vegetarian Times on Soaking and Sprouting