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The healthy eater's guide to grocery shopping

5 Pantry and fridge staples

With so much information on healthful eating out there, stocking your kitchen can be daunting. Every day the news touts some new miracle food or eating approach. But some items remain at the basis of any good eating regimen, and they belong on your shopping list. The key is simply sticking to real foods. Here are just five to get you started!

Pasta and whole grains

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1Whole grain cereals and breads

The process that turns whole grains into white flour removes the grain's bran, germ, and endosperm -- the very components that contain natural nutrients and fiber. So stick with whole grains and the foods made with them -- such as whole grain breads, cereals, brown rice, oatmeal and even popcorn.

2Extra virgin olive oil

All olive oil is full of antioxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids and healthy omega fats that have been shown to protect against heart disease, high cholesterol and even some forms of cancer. "Extra virgin" on the label, however, indicates that it's from the first pressing of the olives - meaning these substances are much more concentrated than in ordinary varieties.

3Raw veggies at the ready

You've heard it before: strive for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This is much easier to achieve when you're not faced with preparing them for every serving. So keep a container of sliced, diced and otherwise snack-friendly goodies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge. If you like, buy or make some dressing (with extra virgin olive oil) for dipping.

4Lean proteins

A supply of basic lean meats, poultry and fish in the freezer provides the basis for a wide variety of healthful dishes when combined with brown rice and whole-grain pasta and vegetables. If you're a vegetarian, stay stocked up on nuts, beans and tofu.

>> Nuts: The perfect health and fitness food

5Give your food a little zing

Think herbs, garlic, vinegar, honey and more. In fact, we have a great list of them right here for you!

>> 10 Gotta have-its for your pantry and fridge

The bottom line on healthful foods: If you don't stock them, you and your family won't eat them. Keep real foods on hand and in a readily-enjoyed form, and you're on your way to better eating!


More ideas for pantry staples:

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