» Now I'm going to add in a BONUS item because condiments are important and help to amp up the flavor of otherwise bland foods. Sometimes no matter how good your intentions are, meals just turn out less flavorful than you planned. Solve this by adding a healthy condiment like mustard, hummus, or salsa. Try to avoid condiments like mayo, ketchup, bbq sauce and store-bought salad dressings as they tend to have too much-saturated fat, salt, and sugar.
» So now lets go over 5 staple foods for your pantry. These health foods are not perishable and can be kept in your pantry for an extended period of time. Since health foods can be a bit more expensive than junk food, stock up on these items when they are on sale or buy in bulk to save money.
1. Olive Oil
Studies show that olive oil has some of the best health benefits among oils. It is a nutritional keystone used in many of the world’s longest-living cultures and the most important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. It can reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It also helps fight depression and improve your metabolism. Additionally, olive oil is one of the easiest health foods to cook with, making it a must-have staple in every healthy household.
Fiber is an often overlooked aspect of a healthy diet. It is necessary to keep your digestive tract running smoothly and your blood sugar levels even. When it comes to fiber-filled health foods it doesn’t get much better than oatmeal. Not only does it have enough fiber to keep you full and regular but it also contains calcium, potassium and healthy complex carbohydrates. Make sure to buy plain oatmeal and flavor it yourself with fresh fruits or nuts, so that you can avoid the added calories and sugar found in flavored varieties.
Moving away from animal protein and exploring plant protein can be one of the easiest ways to cut down your budget. Beans are one of the least expensive sources of protein available and can be used in a variety of recipes as a meat substitute, making them a great health foods choice. Beans can provide more than just protein to your diet though, they also provide fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of complex carbohydrates.
Honey will stay in your pantry for years without going bad, but if you use it as a general sweetener you may not keep it for years. When buying honey, opt for the natural or raw varieties to skip added sugars and sweeteners. Raw honey has plenty of sweetness. When you can, substitute honey in recipes that call for sugar and achieve a healthier finished product. You can even sweeten your coffee or tea with honey to maximize its use.
Raw and unsalted almonds can make a great snack that curbs hunger. These nuts are packed with healthy fats and will give you energy without causing your body to crave more sugar. A handful of almonds can be a healthy snack when you are feeling lazy and don’t want to prep something. They also have a long shelf life and can be affordable when bought in bulk.
BONUS: Dark Chocolate
Enjoy chocolate without feeling guilty! Just don’t overdo it. Dark chocolate contains many antioxidants that provide your body with free-radical fighting power. It can also reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If that's not enough to convince you to head out to the nearest store and pick yourself up a bar of deliciously dark chocolate, it can even help improve your brain function. Need we say more? I didn’t think so.