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19 Food Staples Healthy People Always Stock in the Pantry

Stock your cupboard with these healthy foods to eat that are perfect for long-term storage and a speedy meal.

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Canned pumpkin


This superstar squash is good for more than just Halloween treats: add a can to pasta, chili, or quick breads for extra creamy texture and a fast dash of nutrition. Or you can stock up your pantry with these 15 other healthy foods nutritionists eat every day.

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Canned salmon or tuna

Choose low-sodium versions (packed in water) when possible. It’ll cost you less than the fresh varieties but wild Alaskan canned salmon is just as good for you and both tuna and salmon boast low mercury levels. They’re also chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and loaded with protein.

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Plain pasta sauce


A great all-purpose staple for making pasta or homemade pizza. Choose a low-sodium variety. Plus, tomatoes are a proven cancer-fighting food. Make sure you’re not deceived by these surprisingly unhealthy foods that appear way healthier than you think.

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Green tea


Green tea is filled with disease-fighting antioxidants. Use loose-leaf tea, which is more flavorful than bagged. Store in an opaque, dry, airtight container once opened. Use cold green tea to make a smoothie.

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Spaghetti


Choose enriched whole-grain pasta, which has more iron, folic acid, and other B vitamins than whole wheat. If you want to be a smarter, healthier grocery shopper, take a look at this shopping list of the 50 healthiest foods you can buy at the supermarket.

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Whole wheat couscous


This is hands down the fastest-cooking whole-grain food, perfect for a busy weeknight. Cool fact: It swells in your stomach, which fills you up and makes it so we don’t eat as much of it as we otherwise would with other pastas.

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Barley


Like all whole grains, barley is packed with the mineral magnesium, which may lower diabetes risk. In addition, it contains soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. You can even try one of these 10 innovative healthy food swaps that you never thought of before.

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Stewed tomatoes


These turn boring dishes into zestier ones—toss into a skillet of browned chicken with green peas and brown rice.

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Canned chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans


They’re a speedy way to add fiber and protein to salads, soups, wraps, and stews. Rinse beans first to wash off some of the sodium they’re packed in. Make sure you know the truth behind these 21 common food myths.

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Low-sodium soy sauce


Punch up the flavor of a stir-fry.

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Extra-virgin olive oil


Because it contains a high proportion of monounsaturated fat compared with other foods, olive oil is a staple of the healthy Mediterranean-style diet. Here are the 11 best ways to shop healthy on a tight budget.

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Dried red and green lentils


These fiber-rich legumes are full of protein and don’t need to be soaked before cooking. Red lentils turn soft when cooked and are great for thickening soups. Green lentils hold their shape and are perfect for rice pilafs, salads, and soups.

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Brown rice


A whole grain that has about four times more fiber and magnesium than white rice. Have you ever tried eating brown rice as part of a healthy breakfast? You totally should! If you think a healthy lifestyle is hard, try one of these 11 effortless ways to eat healthier.

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Low-fat granola cereal


Sprinkle it over yogurt and add a diced apple or berries for a nutritious breakfast. Look for brands with less than three grams of fat per serving.

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Quinoa


This gluten-free whole grain is a complete protein. Make quinoa salads with veggies and nuts.

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High-fiber bran cereal


Bran is one of the best sources of fiber, perfect for an energizing breakfast that will keep you full all morning. Additionally, it’s been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and keep blood sugar steady to ward off cravings for sweets.

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Peanut butter


A healthy unsaturated fat with protein, vitamin E, and folate, peanut butter (in moderation) is a great condiment for fruit or crackers. Pair a tablespoon with an apple or spread it on a whole-wheat tortilla, add some banana slices, and roll up. Check out these 30 eating tricks that will change your life forever.

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Oatmeal


Studies find that people who eat oatmeal on a regular basis are more likely to maintain a stable weight and healthy cholesterol levels.  In one study of memory and concentration, oatmeal eaters performed 20 percent better than those who had sugary cereal for breakfast. Packets make for a great, in-a-hurry breakfast.

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Herbs and spices


They put the kick in your vegetarian chili and the yum in your omelets. Use them lavishly to add flavor (especially in lieu of salt). Cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, nutmeg, garlic, ginger, and so many more boast amazing health benefits, including lowering inflammation and blood sugar levels. Steal some trick about eating healthy from other cultures with these yummy lunch recipes from around the world that are actually good for you.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest