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Compatible groups

Published: 17.10.2017

Combination of different products Herbert Shelton, one of the founders of the food combining theory in the West whose books are still used by dieticians all over the world, wrote: “We derive no value from foods that are not digested. To eat and have the food spoil in the digestive tract is to waste the food. It is worse than this, as the spoiling of foods results in the production of poisons which are injurious. … An amazing number of food allergies clear up completely when supposedly allergic individuals learn to eat their foods in digestible combinations. What they suffer from is not an allergy, as this is at present understood, but indigestion. Allergy is a term applied to protein poisoning. Indigestion results in putrefactive poisoning, which is also a form of protein poisoning.” (Herbert Shelton. Food Combining Made Easy, Texas, 1971)

Below you can find a classification of products showing their ideal, allowed and harmful combinations. All products are divided into 10 groups. However, unlike the traditional classification of vegetables into starchy and non-starchy ones, they are divided into compatible and less compatible ones here. This is due to the fact that vegetables, traditionally referred to the group of “moderately starchy” ones, actually often contain very little starch and their compatibility frequently does not differ from “non-starchy” ones. Carrot is an example and it perfectly combines almost with all products. The same applies to beetroot, which contains even less starch than green beans (beetroot contains a lot of sugar). However, beetroot is usually referred to the “moderately starchy” kind of vegetables. That is why vegetables are classified not based on their starch content, but on their compatibility with the majority of other products.

Thus, here are the 10 groups.

Group 1. Sweet fruits

Bananas, dates, persimmons, figs, all dried fruits, raisins, dried melon. Fruits are always digested rapidly. Sweet fruits stay in the stomach for a longer time, while the more sour ones take less time. It is better to consume all fruits separately from other products. It is especially bad to eat them as a dessert, right after eating. In this case they trigger fermentation processes (especially sweet fruits). The same applies to fruit juices.

Fruits and juices should be consumed as a separate meal or at least half an hour before eating something else, but not any sooner than three hours after a previous meal.

Sweet fruits combine very well with each other (e.g. raisins with dried plums) and with sub-acid fruits (persimmon with apple). It is also allowed to combine sweet fruits with cream, sour cream, greens and sour milk products. You can add dried fruits in a small quantity to some porridges (e.g. pilaf with raisins or dried apricots etc.)

Our digestive system does not impede us from eating any fruits and vegetables together, but it is not recommended to combine them. The energy of these products is too different. People feel it instinctively and very few of us will want to eat a persimmon together with a cucumber or cabbage with dates. However, there are some exceptions. For example, it is alright to eat an apple-carrot puree or vegetable salads with cranberry or lemon juice etc.

Group 2. Sub-acid fruits

Sometimes they are also called semi-sweet fruits. This group includes mango, watermelons, blueberries, bilberries, wild strawberries, raspberries, and also sweet apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, apricots, peaches etc.

Sub-acid fruits can be combined with each other, with sweet fruits (pear with fig), with acid fruits (apple with tangerine) and with sour milk products (grapes with kefir).

They are also compatible with cream, sour cream, greens and protein products rich in fats, such as cheese, nuts and fat cottage cheese. Some berries can be consumed with warm milk.

It is not good to combine them with other protein products (meat, eggs, fish, mushrooms, beans etc.) because of the difference in digestion speeds. It is even worse to consume them with starchy food.

Peaches, blueberries, bilberries, grapes and melons are famous for their “subtleness”. They are digested very easily, when consumed separately, but are incompatible with all the other products (apart from several other sub-acid fruits). It is better to eat them as a separate meal.

Tomatoes are also referred to the group of sub-acid fruits, as they contain a lot of acid. However, like all the other vegetables, tomatoes do not combine with fruits very well and, unlike other fruits, they are quite compatible with proteins and other vegetables.

Group 3. Sour fruits

Oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, pineapples, pomegranates, lemons, currant, blackberries, cranberries, as well as sour apples, pears, plums, apricots, grapes etc. They combine well with each other, sub-acid fruits, and sour milk products, cream, sour cream and fat cottage cheese. It is allowed to combine sour fruits with nuts, cheese and greens.

They are incompatible with animal protein products, beans and grains and starches, less compatible with vegetables.

Group 4. Compatible vegetables

Cucumbers, raw cabbage, radish, sweet pepper, green beans, onion, garlic, beetroot, turnip, rutabaga, carrot, pumpkin, squash, lettuce and some other vegetables.

They can be combined with almost any food, which contributes to their better digestion: with proteins (meat with cucumbers, carrot with cottage cheese), fats (cabbage with butter), all other vegetables, starches (bread with beetroot) and greens.

All vegetables are incompatible with milk. It is also not recommended to combine them with fruits, although there are some exceptions.

Group 5. Less compatible vegetables

Cauliflower, cooked cabbage, green peas, late pumpkins and squashes, eggplants. Compatible with starches (squash with bread) and with all the vegetables, with fats (eggplant with sour cream) and greens. Can be consumed with cheese. Less compatible with animal proteins (cauliflower with meat, green peas with eggs). Incompatible with fruits and milk.

Group 6. Starchy products

Wheat, rye, oats and products made of them (bread, pasta etc.), grains, such as buckwheat, rice and others, potatoes, chestnuts and ripe corn. Perfectly compatible with greens, fats and all the vegetables.

It is also allowed to combine different kinds of starches; however it is not recommended for overweight people. Moreover, different grains vary a lot in their protein content, so in the end it is better to not mix them.

When consuming starchy food with fats, it is recommended to eat some vegetables or greens. It is bad to combine starches with proteins, especially with those of animal origin (bread with meat, potatoes with fish), milk and sour milk products (oatmeal cooked with milk, kefir with bread), sugars (bread with jam, porridge with sugar), any fruits and fruit juices.

Group 7. Protein products

Meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, brynza, milk, curdled milk, kefir etc., dry beans, lentils and peas, nuts, seeds and mushrooms. Combine very well with greens and compatible vegetables. Moreover, these products contribute to a good digestion of proteins and removal of different poisonous compounds.

An exception to this rule is milk, as it is always better to eat it separately. It is digested in the best way when it is warm (but not boiled!). Milk can sometimes be combined with fruits; however people can react differently to such combinations.

It is allowed to consume proteins with fats, and one should keep in mind that animal proteins are more compatible with animal fats, while plant proteins are equally compatible with animal and plant fats. However, fats slow down digestion processes, so it is always better to add some vegetables and greens to this combination.

Proteins are incompatible with starchy products, fruits and sugars. The only exceptions are cottage cheese, cheeses, sour milk products, nuts and seeds, which sometimes can be eaten together with fruits.

Group 8. Greens

Salad leaves, nettle, plantains, green onions, sorrel, aegopodium, coriander, parsley, acacia, rose petals, clover, dill etc. Greens are compatible with all the products, except for milk. It is recommended to eat a bunch of greens every day to stay healthy. It is especially healthy to consume them with starches and proteins, as in this case it helps to improve digestion, neutralizes toxins, compensates prana and vitamin deficiency and improves peristaltic movements.

Group 9. Fats

Butter and clarified butter, cream, sour cream, vegetable oils, animal fats. Sometimes fat meat. Fish and nuts are also referred to this group. The general property of all fats is that they slow down gastric juice secretion, especially when eaten in the beginning of a meal. Despite that, they neutralize negative impact of some bad food combinations. For example, light cottage cheese with bread and sour cream will be digested better than the same cottage cheese and bread, but without sour cream (however, cottage cheese and bread is not the best example).

Fats combine perfectly well with greens, vegetables (salad with sour cream) and starchy products (porridge with butter). Sometimes, it is allowed to combine fats with fruits, especially with berries (strawberries with cream). It is not recommended to combine fats with sugars (cream with sugar, candies). Here, the negative consequences of slowing down effect of fats can be especially notable.

It is also wrong to combine fats of animal and plant origin, although some exceptions are possible here. Vegetable oil, for example, combines relatively well with fish, which contains unsaturated fats, but it is less compatible with meat. Clarified butter is more compatible with other products than the normal one.

Group 10. Sugars

White and brown sugar, fructose, jams, syrups, honey and treacle. When combined with proteins and starches, they cause fermentation, contributing to rotting of all other products. It is better to eat sweets separately (if you eat them at all). For example, make an afternoon tea and eat come jam or candies. In general, if you really want to, you can eat two or three candies 40-60 minutes before eating, but not after it!

An exception to this rule is honey. It contains substances that impede rotting, and in small quantities it is compatible with many other products (except for animal ones). However, honey is a very biologically active food and it is not recommended to consume it every day (so that your organism would not get used to it). Sometimes, it is allowed to drink some herbal tea with honey or add a spoon of honey to porridge or salad.


The purpose of the suggested classification is to provide some guidance in all the variety of products, and to learn basic principles and combinations. However, products in each group often do not combine with other foods in the same way. For example, cottage cheese with jam is a better combination than cheese with jam, though it is better to avoid such combinations. People also vary in the content of their gastric juice enzymes and in their predominant microflora. What is a good combination for one might not be as nice for another, though the main principles can be applied to everybody.

For your convenience, the main types of products are listed in the tables in which different combinations of products are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (see online calculator). Perfect combinations are rated with a five, acceptable ones with a four. The most harmful ones are rated with a one, those that are just bad with a two. The rest, rated with a three, is relatively acceptable, but not very good.

Text: from the book of A Eddar "The treatise of nutrition".


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