Pantry shelf

The pictures are of brands that I use but not exclusively. The better quality these items are the better your food will taste.

Click below each image to hear from a certified nutritionist about how your body will benefit from your pantry!

Olive oil spray:

A healthier option than Pam or canola oil spray (see olive oil)

Extra virgin olive oil:

A healing anti-inflammatory oil, rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. It even maintains its health benefits when heated, so you can use it for low-heat cooking as well as for salad dressings and marinades. Buy a high quality cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil to get the most antioxidants and heart healthy benefits and use within 1-2 months. Use it to replace canola oil whenever you can, and aim to have about 3 teaspoons a day of high quality olive oil.

Coconut oil and milk:

Rich in medium chain fatty acids, which help to boost your metabolism. These types of fats are burned very quickly by the body, giving you a boost of energy. Try it in smoothies, nut butters, granolas, sauces, baked goods. Also aim for about 3 teaspoons per day of this delicious oil. It has even been shown to help burn fat and curb your appetite.

Toasted sesame oil:

Sesame seeds are tiny but nutrient-rich seeds! They are an incredibly rich source of minerals and b-vitamins. Just 1 tablespoon provides almost 10-20% of your daily calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper needs, helping to keep your bones and muscles functioning optimally. For vegans, sesame seeds, Tahini, and toasted sesame oil are a good source of iron and calcium.

Soy sauce (less sodium):

Soy sauce is a low calorie flavor enhancer, but make sure to by soy cause that is not mixed with sugar (Teriyaki) or other ingredients. Stick to a traditionally fermented soy sauce and you can even reap some benefits from the antioxidants, manganese, and prebiotics that come with it (prebiotics support the growth of probiotics in the gut). Look for wheat-free versions (tamari) or ones made without artificial ingredients.


Honey can be a good replacement for sugar, assuming that both are consumed infrequently. Honey (especially raw honey) has some advantages over sugar since it contains prebiotics (helps probiotics grow in your gut) and antioxidants.


Mustard seeds are part of the brassica family of plants (like kale and broccoli) and have anti-cancer properties. They are also rich in selenium, an anti-oxidant, and magnesium, an important mineral. They even contain some omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. Buy whole grain mustard to get these benefits.

Crushed tomatoes:

Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A & C, and Lycopene, all of which provide amazing sources of antioxidants. Due to their high levels of antioxidants, they are great for heart health and to potentially prevent cancer.

Balsamic, red wine & white wine vinegars:

Vinegars are made through a fermentation process. Good quality vinegars are potentially rich in bioactive components giving it potential antioxidant, antimicrobial, digestive, and other beneficial properties.

Silan - date syrup:

Silan (date syrup) can be a good replacement for sugar, assuming that both are consumed infrequently. Be sure to get pure date syrup with no added sugar to obtain more of the nutrients which dates contain.

Brown or demarara sugar:

If you need to use sweetener, it is better to use small amounts of natural sweeteners rather than artificial sweeteners. Scientists do not fully understand how they work in the body and researchers find that those who use them, tend to gain more weight over time.

White sugar:

Although white sugar is not healthy if consumed frequently or in large amounts, it is better to use a small amount of real sugar rather than an artificial sweetening substitute containing chemicals.

Debra Waldoks, MPH, RDN, is a US Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Public Health, and additional training in Functional Nutrition. She has a private practice in Israel and New York and is an adjunct nutrition professor at Hebrew University, where she is teaching Maternal and Child Nutrition. Debra is also an evidence analyst for the Academy of Nutrition¬†and Dietetics. Her nutrition specialties include perinatal nutrition, Fertility & PCOS, pediatric nutrition, and breastfeeding. She currently lives in Israel with her husband and three children and is also involved in the Israeli start up world, creating personalized dietary supplements at www.Specificare.com.¬† You can find her personal blog at www.BeyondPrenatals.com. And coming soon, www.CheckBoxDiet.com, where you can download a really easy tool to help you eat healthier, fight chronic illnesses, and lose weight.