No matter what reason you might have for firing up your blender, you’ll benefit from the health-boosting properties that come with tossing in the below dietitian-recommended smoothie ingredients for longevity.
The best smoothie ingredients for longevity, according to RDs
Blueberries are all-around powerhouses, so it makes sense that these delicious high-fiber berries work to boost longevity. “They protect our cells from damage, decrease inflammation, and slow age-related changes to our brain,” says JuicePlus+ nutrition expert Kim Dalzell, PhD, RD. “Participants in a 2012 study who ate the most blueberries and strawberries delayed their memory decline up to two and a half years compared with those who did not report eating berries. In another study, healthy people aged 65 to 77 who drank wild blueberry juice—equal to one and a quarter cups of fresh blueberries—for 12 weeks had improved blood flow to the brain and better working memory,” she says.
2. Greek yogurt
Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN notes that in order for a smoothie to be a well-balanced meal option, it needs to provide sufficient protein. Greek yogurt accomplishes just that while also providing other essential nutrients, like calcium and probiotics. “Calcium is synonymous with bone health and even plays roles in blood clotting and muscle contractions,” says Rifkin. “Bone development and changes are constant throughout life, and calcium is one of the essential nutrients in supporting bone integrity. Depending on your protein needs—and your flavor and texture preferences—one half to a full cup of Greek yogurt can be added to your smoothie.”
We don’t often think of beans as smoothie staples, and that’s a shame. Many people who live in the Blue Zones (the regions of the world that are home to the longest-living people) have been found to eat a half cup to a full cup of beans everyday. “Beans contain plant-based protein, heart-healthy fiber, iron, folate and antioxidants,” says Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RDN, creator of 2B Mindset and 2B Pregnant for Beachbody. “One could add white beans to a smoothie with vanilla bean, or black beans to a smoothie with pure cocoa powder.”
Another popular Blue Zones food is nuts. “Most people who live in the Blue Zone regions eat about two ounces, roughly two handfuls, of nuts per day,” says Muhlstein. Nuts are packed with protein, fiber, and important minerals like magnesium, selenium, and iron.
If you’re going to be whirling up a smoothie, Muhlstein recommends swapping out processed fruit juice and, instead, opting for both water and fresh or frozen fruit. This will make the beverage more hydrating and fiber-filled. “Water is the most commonly consumed beverage among the Blue Zones where people drink about seven glasses per day,” says Muhlstein. Adding a bit of water to a smoothie can help prevent that tedious need to stop and stir an overly thick concoction from forming inside your blender, too.
Spinach is extremely nutrient-dense and can boost longevity. “Researchers have found that older adults with high blood levels of carotenoids—found in leafy greens—had longer telomeres, which is the protective end caps on chromosomes,” says Dr. Dalzell. “Younger adults experienced similar results; those with the highest carotenoid levels had telomeres five to eight percent longer than those with the lowest carotenoid levels.” Dr. Dalzell goes on to explain that "current studies suggest that longer telomeres might decrease the risk of chronic diseases, like cancer, and lead to a longer life.”
Dr. Dalzell notes that substances that occur naturally in soy can help fight heart disease, osteoporosis, and skin aging—all associated with age-related declining estrogen levels. “Researchers found adults who consumed 25 grams of soy protein per day for six weeks significantly decreased levels of LDL cholesterol. Daily intake of 38 grams of soy improved bone mineral density and reduced fracture risk in perimenopausal women.” Try adding silken tofu to smoothies to reap the benefits above (it'll add tons of plant-based protein to your beverage, too).
Digestion can slow as we age, and prunes are a great way to add gut-boosting fiber to your diet. “In addition to improving regularity, researchers have found that adults who consume 80 grams of fiber-rich prunes—equal to five or six prunes—per day have higher levels of bifidobacteria," says Dr. Dalzell. "This a form of healthy bacteria in the gut that help crowd out undesirable bacteria associated with the aging process. Prunes are also exceptionally high in antioxidants, making them powerful cell protectors."
9. Bee pollen
This naturally sweet smoothie add-in packs plenty of health benefits. “Bee pollen serves as an antioxidant to promote cellular health, and it is also thought to boost the immune system, relieve inflammation, and boost liver health,” says Rifkin. “Consider adding up to two tablespoons of bee pollen to your smoothie for these longevity-boosting benefits.”
10. Brewed green tea
Every smoothie needs some type of liquid to blend the ingredients together—and if you don’t want to go for water, Rifkin loves using green tea. “Plus, when compared to water, it will provide a number of added health benefits," she says. "For instance, it contains powerful antioxidants to support your cellular health and may even contribute to mental alertness and protecting your body against heart disease and cancer.” Depending on your preferred smoothie texture, she suggests adding around a cup of green tea in your next smoothie.
For more on the longevity-boosting benefits of green tea according to an RD, check out this video:
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