March 04, 2024

7 Kitchen Must-Haves to Optimize Your Health

photo of Jordan Shakeshaft

Written By

Jordan Shakeshaft

photo of Vinita Tandon, MD

Medically Reviewed By

Vinita Tandon, MD

Lifeforce Medical Director

7 Kitchen Must-Haves to Optimize Your Health

“I believe that nutrition is the biggest needle mover when it comes to health,” says Dr. Amy Shah, a double board certified medical doctor and nutritionist specializing in gut health, food allergies, and hormones. “What we input is what becomes our output. The studies on the connection between the microbiome and the brain, hormones, and immune system support that food has the power to create — or heal — disease.” 

Her biggest piece of advice for adopting a more healthful diet is to take small, imperfect steps. “If you can’t eat four servings of vegetables and fruits, you can just start with one salad per day. If you can’t cut out all the junk food, cut out one serving of junk food!”

Here are seven must-haves Dr. Shah swears by to level up your kitchen — and your health. 

The Optimized Kitchen: 7 Must-Haves 

1. Fermented Foods

Research shows that sauerkraut, kimchi, or even raw apple cider vinegar (any foods that have probiotic bacteria) can be extremely beneficial and anti-inflammatory.

2. Beans 

Beans like edamame and black beans are an inexpensive, shelf-stable source of protein that can make any meal healthier because of the fiber and protein they contain.

3. Berries 

High in antioxidants, berries work to battle aging and inflammation in our bodies.

4. Leafy Greens

Baby spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are a staple of my diet. They are perhaps the healthiest food on the planet when it comes to inflammation.

5. Mushrooms 

Packed with vitamin D, mushrooms are a powerhouse for inflammation and cancer prevention. 

6. Onions and Garlic

Not only do they add flavor to your meal, they’re prebiotics, which act as food for the good bacteria in your digestive system. 

7. Glass Storage Containers

One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your ingestion of endocrine-disrupting plastic is cooking, storing, and heating in glass containers instead of plastic.

Sip and Savor 

With a well-stocked pantry and a fridge full of produce, there still begs the question: What should I eat? Whether you’re on the hunt for a sweet and satiating smoothie or a savory grain bowl packed with protein and greens, we’ve got your cravings covered and your macros met.  

Blueberry Flaxseed Smoothie Recipe

Blueberry Flaxseed Smoothie

Sip on this: Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol, which can help reduce inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage, and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Add in ground flaxseed, an excellent source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, and you’ve got an anytime smoothie that’s as easy as it is nutritious. 

Mango Ginger Rice Bowl Recipe

Mango Ginger Rice Bowl

Bring your favorite health-conscious cafe home with this DIY rice bowl. It checks all the boxes with fiber-rich mango, inflammation-fighting veggies, protein-packed beans, and hearty grains to fuel your day. Plus, you can customize it based on your personal preferences — or whatever happens to be in your fridge.  

For more from Dr. Amy Shah visit

This article was medically reviewed by Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

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