Happy Spring!  I love this time of year!  Birds singing, the weather getting warmer, and new beginnings.  This is also an awesome time to spring clean your pantry, or give yourself a

“Nutrition Tune Up” so to speak

Here is a list of items to swap, or add to your pantry this spring

1) Whole Grains — These foods provide the most nutritional bang for your buck when it comes to B Vitamins, phytonutrients, and dietary fiber.

Swap white rice with brown, white pasta with100% whole grain ( I really like the 100% angel hair pasta– it only takes 3 minutes to prepare) Want to live on the edge?

Try new grains such as wheat berries, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat in soups and salads.

2) Simple sugars– Simple sugars such as agave nectar, maple syrup may raise blood sugar levels, increase blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease risk.

Swap simple sugars with natural fruit (dates and figs are super sweet!) or Stevia for a sweet taste in your oatmeal, yogurt, or baked goods

3) High fat snacks — Potato chips are highly processed and high in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease.  Swap those potato chips with healthier versions such as whole grain tortilla chips or popcorn. — both offer dietary fiber and additional nutrition.   I make my popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove with just a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a covered pot.

4) Sweet treats — is there candy and cookies lurking in your pantry? These treats tend to be very high in simple sugars and very low on the nutrition scale.  Want a better treat for your heart and mind?  Swap that candy with 70% or higher dark chocolate.  Research has shown that dark chocolate may increase the elasticity of blood vessels (making them less prone to heart disease), may increase HDL (the good cholesterol) and also improve brain function.  So much good for such a yummy food!

5) Just plain unhealthy snacks (pork rinds, cheese curls– you know who you are) — These guys do nothing but damage to the body, starting with increasing inflammation in the blood vessels, and going on from there to increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions.  Swap these with salted or unsalted nuts (unsalted if you are keeping an eye on your blood pressure) Nuts– walnuts, almonds, cashews..  are high in heart healthy fats that may reduce mortality and improve heart health.

So there you have it… Your top 5 foods to swap in your pantry this spring!  These foods taste great and may help you live a better life as well… Enjoy!