The Healthy Pantry Foods a Functional Medicine Doctor Always Keeps on Hand

Photo: Stocksy/Sofie Delauw
The same way it would be hard to resist peeking inside a dermatologist's medicine cabinet to see the skin-care products she *really* uses, it's only natural to wonder what foods doctors keep in their kitchens. I mean, if your day job involves exploring the relationship between diet and health, surely those findings seep over into your personal life, right?

Well, you can stop wondering what functional medicine doctor and Food Fix author Mark Hyman, MD keeps in his kitchen. He recently shared a list of the pantry items he always has on hand to his Instagram, none of which are particularly exotic or hard to find. "Cooking is the best thing you can do for your health and your budget, and it’s fun," Dr. Hyman wrote in the caption. "And what makes it even easier, is when you have the basic pantry items to create a simple, fast, and tasty meal at any time of the day."


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Curious as to why these healthy pantry staples are his favorites? Keep reading for a little more intel.

1. canned wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies

Dr. Hyman is so into fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies because they're a good source of healthy fats. "You should not live in fear of fats," he previously told Well+Good. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids in particular, which is good for brain health. And you'll get the same benefits from canned fish as you would fresh or frozen, too.

2. nuts and seeds

Dr. Hyman is a fan of nuts and seeds because they're rich in healthy fats (yep, that nutrient again) and protein. They're great to have on-hand for snacking because they provide energy (thanks to the protein) without spiking blood glucose levels.

3. nut butters

Nut butters have the same benefits of nuts, just in spreadable form. Dr. Hyman's tip when it comes to nut butters is to choose ones that don't have added sugars, salt, or oil. That way, you're getting the protein and healthy fats without anything unwanted additives.

4. extra virgin olive oil

There's a reason why extra virgin olive oil is essentially the star player for the Mediterranean diet—it's a good source of omega-3s and antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation in the body. It's also super easy to work into your meals too; it can be drizzled on top of many foods, including fish, pasta, avocado toast, and even salads.

Watch the video below to learn more of the health benefits of olive oil:

5. vinegar

Balsamic, apple cider, wine, rice...Dr. Hyman's a fan of all these types of vinegars. All of them are full of antioxidants, so working them into your healthy meals can make them even healthier. They're quite potent too, so a little goes a long way. They make great salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.

6. whole grains

"Grains can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber," Dr. Hyman shared in the past about why he's such a fan. His favorite whole grains in particular are millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, rice, and teff—which all happen to be gluten-free, too.

7. beans

Chickpeas, kidney, black...all beans all high in two major nutrients: fiber and plant-based protein. Eating beans regularly has also been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, improving glycemic control, and lowering cholesterol. They're also affordable and can last a long time in your pantry, so there's no reason not to stock up!

8. herbs and spices

Dr. Hyman is a huge lover of herbs and spices. Some, like cayenne pepper, ginger, fennel, and cumin are directly linked to boosting gut health. He also regularly cooks with rosemary because of its connection with supporting brain health and protecting against diabetes. All of these herbs—and many, many more—are also linked  to lowering inflammation. Needless to say, you can't go wrong by cooking with spices and herbs, which adds both health benefits and more taste to your meals.

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