The 5 Healthiest Foods to Keep in Your Pantry

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If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, one of the best ways to maximize your chances of success is to always have healthy foods at hand. That means a pantry well stocked with the foods and ingredients that are most essential to nutritious—and delicious—meals. These top five pantry staples will help you stay on track.

5 Canned Tomatoes

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Canned tomatoes are not packed in heavy syrup as many other canned fruits are (yes, tomatoes are a fruit). And they do not usually include the additional salts, sugars and chemical firming agents that make other canned vegetables off-putting to some people, and obviously until you open the can they are not perishable as fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are such a common addition to so many recipes that it pays to keep at least one large can in your pantry at all times.

4 Canned Black Beans

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Beans and other legumes are good for you in general, but black beans have a heightened health benefit because they are high in antioxidants, and even have some omega-3 fatty acids, which contributes to heart health. Black beans contain anthocyanin—the phytochemical also found in blueberries. Beans in general are high in protein and fiber, which means they are filling, and make a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans.

3 Coffee and Dark Chocolate

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Coffee and chocolate addicts, take note—these two no-no foods are good for you! Coffee and dark chocolate are both high in antioxidants and can actually lower blood pressure. There are caveats, however: Two cups of coffee a day provides health benefits with no corresponding harm—10 cups a day, not so much. And the chocolate benefit applies only to dark chocolate—not milk chocolate or white chocolate. Try to aim for a brand that has at least 70 percent cacao content.

2 Olive Oil

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Olive oil is the first and most basic ingredient in almost any cooked meal because of its well-known health benefits in contrast to butter and other types of oils that contain saturated fats or trans fats. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil can actually lower your cholesterol, and they have other health benefits as well. Olive oil is not a low-calorie food, however, so use it in moderation. To get the full health benefits of olive oil, make sure the label indicates that it’s cold-pressed and extra virgin.

1 Quinoa

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Quinoa is a type of grain similar to rice, but takes far less time to prepare (15 minutes) than brown rice and, with its high protein content, is much healthier than white rice. Quinoa is a godsend when you’re searching for a quick and easy snack, or when you need the perfect side dish with little notice.

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