10 Healthy Pantry Must-Haves

By Leslie Goldman

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canned tomatoes
Scott Little

3. Canned Tomatoes

You don't need fancy fruits with unpronounceable names to nab your daily cancer-fighting antioxidants. Almost every kitchen has a can or two of these undercover superfoods socked away. Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., a registered dietitian based in Winter Park, Florida, and co-author of Fat Is Not Your Fate, says tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron. And their key antioxidant, lycopene, actually becomes more readily available to the body when cooked (versus fresh). Canned tomatoes come in all sorts of flavors, like fire-roasted or garlic, onion, and basil. Look for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties to limit sodium; it shouldn't affect the overall taste of your dish, as other ingredients likely contain salt.

Margaret Jackson, a publicist in Boston, always keeps a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in her pantry. A favorite dish: hearty vegetable chili, packed with beans, onions, peppers, and butternut squash. She says she also uses them as a pasta sauce stand-in: "When I'm feeling particularly fancy, I'll put them under the broiler for a few minutes for a caramelized taste. When combined with some white wine, oregano, red pepper, and basil, it turns into as close to homemade pasta sauce as it gets."

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