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10 Best Foods In Your Pantry continued...

5. Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereals
Almost every family has at least a couple of boxes of breakfast cereal in their pantry. The best cereal choices have a whole grain as the first ingredient and contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and not more than 8 grams of sugar per serving, such as Grape-Nuts, Kashi Go Lean, or Shredded Wheat. Since natural sweetness from dried fruit is included in the “sugar” total on the Nutrition Facts label, there are cereals like Kellogg’s Raisin Brain that are still a great choice even though they have more than 8 grams sugar per serving. The dried fruit in this cereal appears high in the ingredient list than added sugar.

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Canola Oil
Heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and phytochemicals make olive oil a great addition to your meals and cooking. Cochran uses olive oil as a dip for bread, an ingredient in salad dressings, and as a cooking fat for chicken and fish. Ansel suggests having canola oil in addition to olive oil in your pantry because each is preferable for different culinary purposes.

7. Whole-Grain or Whole Wheat Pasta
Dinner is only 10 minutes away when you have pasta in the pantry. Make it whole wheat or whole-grain pasta and the fiber and important nutrients skyrocket. Each 2-ounce serving contributes about 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, and phytochemicals coming from the whole grains. (A 2-ounce serving of white pasta contains 1.8 grams of fiber.)

8. Whole-Grain Quinoa
Quinoa can also be cooked in a rice cooker, but it has twice the fiber, protein, and iron as the same amount of brown rice. They each have about 170 calories per 1/4 cup dry. Cooked quinoa can be added to entrees, soups and stews, and salads calling for cooked whole grains.

9. Green Tea Bags
With each sip of unsweetened green tea, you get two potent flavonoids -- anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin -- as well as a healthy dose of catechin. All are powerful phytochemicals with suspected antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body. And the best part of drinking more green tea (choose decaf if you are sensitive to caffeine) is that you are likely drinking less of other beverages on the “worst” list above, like sodas or fruit drinks.

10. Dark Chocolate With 60% Cacao or Unsweetened Cocoa
Possible health benefits stem from the cacao plant being extraordinarily rich in antioxidant phytochemicals called flavonols. Leopold agrees that dark chocolate is one of the best foods to put in your pantry, although more research needs to be done. Recent studies suggest that dark chocolate and cocoa may ease emotional stress, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease blood pressure, and increase insulin sensitivity. But keep in mind, dark chocolate is also loaded with fat, sugar, and calories, so enjoy a small portion.

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