Nutritionists and dieticians are in the business of giving advice. From making sure we understand how to get our essential vitamins and minerals, to translating the latest research into digestible information, it’s their job to tell us about what we should be eating to support our health and wellbeing.
But what about their own day-to-day diets? The reality is, most food experts are busy people, just like us – but they know how to utilise quick and easy store cupboard staples that pack in a lot of health-boosting benefits. Curious about what those things are?
Here, we asked some of the UK’s top health-eating pros to share the one store cupboard staple that would make their desert island list, and why they’re great for your health. So you might want to pop some of these in your trolley on your next trip to the supermarket…
1. Rob Hobson (@robhobsonnutritionist)
“My go-to healthy ingredient is always extra-virgin olive oil. I use it every day for both cooking and drizzling. I keep different types in stock, as some are much stronger flavoured,” says Hobson.
“The health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil go unquestioned; this type of oil is great for the heart, as it’s rich in oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid that can help to keep LDL cholesterol at bay. It can also help to reduce inflammation in the body.
“This type of oil is also a bedrock to the Mediterranean style of eating, which I am a huge fan of and encourage my clients to follow.”
2. Jenna Hope (@jennahopenutrition)
“My go-to cupboard staple is chickpeas, as they’re the key component to my favourite food – hummus. They have a long shelf life, they’re cheap, and can be added to soups, stews, curries, bolognaise, or used as pie topping as an alternative to potato. I also roast them with paprika, salt, pepper, olive oil and chilli, to make the perfect crunchy mid-afternoon snack.
“They’re great for your health as they’re rich in plant-based protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, iron and calcium. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen around the body and maintaining energy, whilst calcium is pivotal for bone health and fluid balance.”
3. Dr Megan Rossi (@theguthealthdoctor)
“Legumes like beans and pulses are a seriously underrated ‘superfood’ group. They’re loaded with prebiotics and fibre, plus they’re one of the most cost-efficient, nutrient-dense, widely available foods.
“Plant-based diversity is key to good gut health, so I always have tins of mixed beans in my cupboard, that I add to soups, pasta sauces and curries to boost the fibre and the flavour. It’s an easy way to add four or five plant points (different types of plant foods) to any dish.”
4. Lucinda Miller (@naturedockids)
“My go-to food cupboard ingredient is almond butter. It’s full of calcium, as well as protein, healthy fats and fibre. There are so many different ways to enjoy it, but I usually add a teaspoon or two to my porridge, or I’ll slather it on toast with sliced banana and blueberries at breakfast time.
“I also use to it make creamy salad dressings. I find it makes my meals much more filling and delicious.”
5. Lily Soutter (@lily_soutter_nutrition)
“One of my favourite cupboard essentials is pesto. It’s a go-to ingredient for me because it’s delicious and versatile – but as with all things, pesto is healthy in moderation. Thanks to ingredients like basil and garlic, pesto is packed full of heart-friendly vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I like to use pesto in lots of different types of dishes, such as an alternative ingredient to tomato sauce in my pasta dishes.
“Tomato can be a trigger for those who suffer with heartburn, as it can cause the stomach to produce excess gastric acid, which can result in a painful burning sensation in the chest. If this sounds like you, it’s always best to choose a lighter ingredient like pesto, if you are trying to curb those symptoms but still want to enjoy your favourite pasta dish. Pesto can also be a great pizza topping, or as a substitute to mayonnaise.”
6. Jane Clarke (@nourishbyjaneclarke)
“We know that highly processed foods cause inflammation, but many natural ingredients actually fight the effects of inflammation happening in our body and actively work to protect our cells. I always like to add ginger to my shopping list, so that I always have it to hand.
“Scientific studies have shown ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. If you’re not sure how to utilise it, you can add fresh ginger to meals such as stir-fries and curries, or grate the root into a cup with lemon juice and drink it as a fresh ginger tea.”