5 Top Pantry Staples You Didn't Know Were Good for You
Have you ever peered into your cupboard and felt like you’re looking at the usual suspects? What if those “boring” staples were actually superfoods? Would you look at them differently then? Turns out, a lot your pantry usuals are actually good for you. So the next time you’re not feeling well, don’t reach for the medicine cabinet, take a prescription from your pantry and sample some everyday foods that can positively impact your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. And as Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food.”
Even if you don’t have them in their natural form, almond milk will do. This popular tree nut is easily one of the most-saluted snacks worldwide. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, including amygdalin to regulate appetite and boost libido. In a column for Fox News, Dr. David Samadi said an ounce of almonds, which is about 25 almonds, contains twelve percent of our daily protein. They’re also one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol, which is great news for gym junkies. This form of vitamin E helps prevent free-radical damage post-workout and reduce muscle strain, which means your body can heal faster. “Almonds can be considered ‘brain food’ . . . healthy levels of vitamin E have been shown to prevent cognitive decline, boost alertness, and preserve memory longer,” he said.
Most homes have this simple seasoning in their spice rack, but did you know the benefits to your health far outweigh its delicious flavor? Integrative nutritionist Danielle Omar of Food Confidence says it “has the added benefit of slowing down digestion, which helps keep your blood sugar from spiking after eating.” Cinnamon is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, helps to lower cholesterol, and is a great sugar substitute because it has zero calories. Omar says it adds a little bit of fiber and calcium, too. A study published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics proved it has fat-releasing powers and aids weight loss. Tara Ostrowe, R.D., M.S., of Columbia University told Reader’s Digest “cinnamon really is the new skinny food.” For some easy ideas on how to use cinnamon, check out Danielle’s no-bake energy ball recipes.
For many, this standard breakfast grain conjures fond memories of hot porridge before school. But how much do you really know about this basic food? Good old-fashioned rolled oats or steel-cut styles have been found to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. They’re high in zinc, which is essential for wound healing; they lower bad cholesterol; and the beta-glucans found in oats boost our immune system to defend against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. According to a 2010 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, early introduction of oats in small children could “decrease the risk of persistent asthma.” To read more about this humble super grain, visit the Whole Grains Council.
If that’s not enough to convince you, this new research will: a study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that older adults who ate the most whole grains were 17% less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than those who consumed minimal whole grains. Start your day right tomorrow with this delicious cherry coconut oat cereal from Avocado a Day Nutrition.
For a long time, we turned away from fats thinking too much was bad for us, but new research has shown good fats are crucial to a healthy life, no matter how you eat them. Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the best you can get. Why? An article by the Mayo Clinic says it’s the monounsaturated fatty acids that help to lower the risk of heart disease and cholesterol, and it has proven to assist patients with Type 2 diabetes because it helps to control insulin and blood sugar levels. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine backs this up and recommends a Mediterranean diet with at least four tablespoons of the golden good stuff to receive the full health benefits. Nutritionist and health expert Dr. Joanna McMillan told Mamamia that the “squalene in extra-virgin olive oil concentrates in the skin and seems to play an important role in preventing skin cancer.” Make a healthy dinner tonight with this delicious shaved Brussels sprouts, olive oil, lemon, and pecorino dish recipe.
Every kitchen cupboard should have at least one variety of dried fruit; they’re great for a quick snack or sprinkled on salad, and our kids love them, too. Their nutritional value has long been debated because of the high sugar content, but Rachael Hartley of Avocado a Day Nutrition told U.S. News & World Report they’re packed with fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Hartley suggests soaking them in water, then pureeing them to make a sweet paste, which you can use as a natural sweetener for smoothies, salad dressings, and even in baking. We love this recipe for date caramel via Healthy Happy Life.
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Did you know these everyday staples were also superfoods? Let us know in the comments.
Opening photo: Hayburn&Co