Healthy Snack Ideas

This Banana Turmeric Smoothie Is Inspired by the Longest-Living People on the Planet

Photo: Stocksy/Ina Peters
Fact: There is no such thing as the fountain of youth. But science—including nutrition science—has provided us with a number of well-researched lifestyle habits and longevity-boosting foods that can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellness as you age.

One of our favorite recipes that checks every healthy aging box comes in smoothie form, requires just four ingredients and is inspired by the longest-living people on the planet. For a morning, afternoon, or evening pick-me-up that is as great-tasting as it is good for you, try this iced banana turmeric smoothie recipe. The recipe hails from the team at Blue Zones—a team of researchers dedicated to studying the planet's longest-living people, founded by longevity expert Dan Buettner—so you know it's going to be packed to the brim with nutritional benefits.

For starters, there’s turmeric, which has been a staple in the Okinawan diet for hundreds of years, the Blue Zones Kitchen notes. Okinawa, the fifth largest island of Japan, boasts a population that has a 40 percent greater chance of reaching centenarian status than other Japanese folks, and three times as many 100-year-olds as similarly-sized U.S. regions. "Turmeric is a staple in Okinawa, where it's used as both a cooking spice and a tea," Buettner previously shared with Well+Good.

What are the benefits of turmeric in a smoothie?

Turmeric, one of the star ingredients in this vibrant smoothie recipe, is a spice that comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, which is a perennial in the ginger family. This earthy-flavored spice has a pungent and slightly bitter flavor profile, which has become widely known for its host of health benefits. "The bright yellow spice has been the subject of many recent studies for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals, is linked to lower risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, and has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease," Buettner says.

According to Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, many of these longevity-boosting properties offered by turmeric are linked to a compound known as curcumin. "There’s a compound in turmeric called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, previously told Well+Good. She adds that it can also potentially help relieve soreness after a workout, settle an upset stomach, help manage anxiety, and has been linked to promoting gut healthStudies have also shown that turmeric can act as a treatment for periodontal diseases and oral cancers and reduce the risk of cavities. (Keep in mind that turmeric can potentially stain teeth. Here's how to keep it from happening.)

What are the health benefits of bananas?

Bananas, another key ingredient in this smoothie, are also packed with health benefits: They’re a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. Whether you choose to blend ripe or green bananas, you'll be benefiting your gut microbiome: Less ripe bananas, for instance, contain pectins and resistant starch, which serve as prebiotics in your gut. Riper bananas don’t have quite as much of this starch (it’s converted into sugar, making yellow bananas sweeter), but still contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, key for digestion. And if you let your bananas ripen further, you’ll be left with a fruit that is truly packed with antioxidants.

What are the health benefits of apples?

The next ingredient on the list is another superfruit: apples, which are chock full of heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and have been linked to improving lung function as you age. Research has also shown that apples can lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. Finally, the liquid in this smoothie comes in the form of soy milk, which has its own bevy of health benefits. Soy milk has more protein than other plant-based milks, and soy has been linked to improving symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, a common ailment among older populations, which means it may help increase mobility and quality of life as you age.

Are there side effects of turmeric to be aware of?

Like most things in life, turmeric should be consumed in moderation. Given its potent anti-inflammatory powers, it should come as no surprise that concentrated, medicinal amounts of turmeric aren't recommended for people with certain health conditions. Before consuming turmeric, it's best to consult your doctor to learn if there may be any interactions with medications or other conditions you may have. For example, turmeric can potentially interact with blood thinning and heartburn medications, to name a few.

As a rule of thumb, however, you'll want to consume approximately 500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcuminoids per day to get the anti-inflammatory benefits. To put this into perspective, the common guideline is that there are 200 milligrams of curcumin in one teaspoon of fresh or ground turmeric. Remember: You should consume turmeric paired with black pepper to reap the most benefits from this golden child spice. That's because a complex in pepper called piperine blocks your liver from filtering it too quickly. In short: piperine keeps the turmeric in your body longer so you can actually reap the benefits.

What are some other good smoothie recipes containing turmeric?

Turmeric is basically the gold standard for when it comes to anti-inflammatory spices to add to a smoothie recipe. Here are a few ways to add it into your smoothie-making routine.

Check out the full Blue Zones-inspired recipe for this delicious smoothie below.

Longevity-Boosting Iced Banana Turmeric Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients
1 ripe banana
1 apple, cored and cut into a few pieces
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup vanilla soy milk
5 cups of ice

1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serve immediately.

Learn more about turmeric from Lockwood Beckerman by watching this video:

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