Your kitchen pantry has the power to make or break your diet. If you fill it with whole grains and good-for-you foods, that’s what you’ll reach for when you’re preparing meals or searching for a snack. But if your staples consist of refined grains and fatty, sodium-riddled items, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself regularly noshing on unhealthy foods instead. Your pantry shouldn’t be your waistline’s worst nightmare, and if it is, it may be time to give it a nutritious makeover. To help you decide what should stay, what should go, and what you need to get, here are six of the healthiest pantry staples you should always stock.
1. Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Broth adds flavor to your dishes without adding unwanted calories or fat. In addition to using broth for soup, Bon Appétit recommends using your stocks to reheat grains, braise meat, and prepare sauces. Livestrong explains one cup of vegetable broth will provide you with 10% of the daily value for vitamin A, while one cup of chicken broth contains 27% of the daily value for vitamin C. However, Livestrong also warns that the biggest drawback to store-bought broths is that they’re high in sodium. One cup contains 940 milligrams, or 39% of the daily value for sodium, which is why it’s so important to opt for low-sodium broths instead.
Low-sodium vegetable broths typically contain no more than 5% of the daily value for sodium, about 140 milligrams per serving. Using stocks that have minimal salt is a great way to add depth and flavor to food without increasing your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, which can occur as a result of a high-sodium diet.