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Ten Things

10 Must-Haves for Your Kitchen Pantry

By Gerard Mullin
Gerard Mullin is a Johns Hopkins associate professor of medicine. His book The Gut Balance Revolution: Boost Your Metabolism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose Weight for Good comes out next year.
If you’re doing some reorganizing, don’t forget your kitchen pantry, says Gerard Mullin. Your pantry should be a go-to resource for the building blocks of healthy family meals. But for many, it’s a dusty jumble of junk food and old, unmarked who-knows-what. Fall is as good a time as any to pull everything out, toss the garbage, and give the insides a good cleaning. Mullin suggests taking the “Five R” approach: Reevaluate the space (size, shelving, etc.). Rid yourself of junk. Replace bad foods with better choices. Reorganize so everything is easy to reach. Include remedies for ailments in the form of various health-boosting foods. Here are 10 items every healthy pantry should have on hand.  

1 / Beans

All types have antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, high in fiber, and promote colon health.


2 / Brown Rice

Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.


3 / Cinnamon

High in antioxidants, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and may aid weight loss.


4 / Dark Chocolate

Reduces hypertension and boosts intestinal immunity.


5 / Flax Seeds

May protect against breast and colon cancers; source of fiber and omega-3s.


6 / Ginger

Anti-inflammatory, helps with nausea, and may aid weight loss.


7 / Nuts

Contain vitamins and minerals that promote heart health and lower cholesterol.


8 / Olive Oil

Reduces risks for coronary heart disease, prevents bone loss, and lowers cholesterol.


9 / Tea

Promotes cardiovascular health, protects against colorectal and pancreatic cancer, and reduces risk of stroke.


10 / Tumeric

Fights inflammation, has anti-cancer qualities, and may protect against Alzheimer’s and digestive disorders.

Illustration of common kitchen pantry items
Portrait by Tina Berning; image by Ryo Takemasa

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