Upgrade Your Pantry with These 6 Healthy Options

Chow on 09.09.12
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Photo Credit: razvan.orendovici/ Creative Commons

Improving what you eat doesn't have to be radical to positively impact your health. Although we often think of healthy foods in black and white terms, there are easy ways to make subtle changes. In fact, making a few changes in your pantry can be a great starting point.

Start reading labels closely -- you might be surprised what is hiding in the box. The longer the list of ingredients it contains, the more reasons to find a more wholesome replacement.  Companies make ingredient lists challenging to understand. For example, sugar comes in many forms. Any type or syrup (corn) and juice (evaporated cane), as well as the suffix- ose (dextrose, maltose, sucrose) are alternative terms to describe sugar.

Swap out every day pantry items with more nutrient dense and minimally processed versions. The upgraded pantry items even cost about the same as the products you have been buying. Small changes like these can be made without anyone noticing that they are eating better. 

1. Vinegar. All vinegars are not created equal. There are many health benefits to using raw (unfiltered) apple cider. It not only contains probiotics, which help aid in immunity, but it has also been known to help increase stomach acidity, which promotes better digestion.

2. Broth. Some broths contain gluten (wheat), yeast, MSG and sugar. Carefully read the ingredients on the labels of the brands available in your store. Look for meat and vegetables to be the only ingredients, just like you'd make it at home.

3. Nut butter. Once upon a time nut butters only contained one ingredient- the nuts themselves. You'd be surprised how many brands now add sugar, preservatives, and processed oils to their jars. My family really enjoys sunflower seed butter and almond butter.

4. Salt. Regular table salt has been bleached and contains additives like anti-caking agents and iodine. I prefer unrefined sea salt for both its flavor and mineral-rich properties. Look for gray, pink, or any other non-bleached white color to use both on the table and while cooking.

5. Oil. Choose oils that come from like foods you would eat in their whole form --walnut, macadamia, almond, sesame and olive. Cold pressed and unrefined cooking oils contain more polyphenols, antioxidants, and vitamins. They also have a richer, more intense flavor.

6. Honey. Many grocery store brands of honey have filtered out all of the pollen and created a different substance than what the bees produced. Raw, unfiltered honey has been used for centuries for its health benefits and vitamin content. It should be thick and almost creamy.

What healthy products do you stock in your pantry?

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