10 Best Smoothie Ingredients for Long Life, from RDs

We drink smoothies for all sorts of reasons, from reducing a host of heart-healthy forms of fruit (plus protein) when we are on the go to optimizing recovery after exercise. What we put in these smoothies, however, can have a huge impact on our health and more specifically our longevity and vitality.

No matter what reason you may have for turning on your blender, you will benefit from the health-promoting properties that come with throwing the dietitian-recommended smoothie ingredients below for too long a lifetime.

The best smoothie ingredients for longevity, according to RDs

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are powerhouses everywhere, so it makes sense that these delicious high-fiber berries work to increase longevity. “They protect our cells from damage, reduce inflammation and slow age-related changes in our brain,” says JuicePlus + nutritionist Kim Dalzell, PhD, RD. “Participants in a 2012 study who ate the most blueberries and strawberries delayed their memory loss by up to two and a half years compared to those who did not report eating berries. In another study, healthy people aged 65 to 77 had drank wild blueberry juice – equivalent to one and a quarter cups of fresh blueberries – for 12 weeks improved blood flow to the brain and better working memory, ”she says.

Greek yogurt

Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN notes that for a smoothie to be a well-balanced meal option, it must provide enough protein. Greek yogurt does just that while also to provide other important nutrients, such as calcium and probiotics. “Calcium is synonymous with bone health and even plays roles in blood clots and muscle contractions,” says Rifkin. Bone development and changes are constant throughout life, and calcium is one of the essential nutrients to support bone integrity. Depending on your protein needs – and your taste and texture preferences – half to a whole cup of Greek yogurt can be added to your smoothie. “

3. Beans

We do not often think of beans as smoothie staples, and that is a shame. Many people living in the blue zones (the regions of the world that are home to the longest living people) have been shown to eat half a cup to a whole cup of beans every day. “Beans contain plant-based protein, heart-healthy fiber, iron, folate and antioxidants,” said Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RDN, creator of 2B Mindset and 2B Pregnant for Beachbody. “You could add white beans to a vanilla bean smoothie, or black beans to a pure cocoa powder smoothie.”

4. Nuts

Another popular Blue Zones food is nuts. “Most people who live in the Blue Zone regions eat about two ounces, about two handfuls, of nuts a day,” Muhlstein says. Nuts are packed with protein, fiber and important minerals like magnesium, selenium and iron.

5. Water

If you have to whirl up a smoothie, Muhlstein recommends replacing processed fruit juices and instead opting for both water and fresh or frozen fruit. This will make the drink more moisturizing and full of fiber. “Water is the most commonly consumed beverage among the blue zones, where people drink about seven glasses a day,” says Muhlstein. Adding a little water to a smoothie can help prevent the tedious need to stop and stir an overly thick concoction from forming inside your blender.

Spinach

Spinach is extremely nutrient dense and can increase longevity. “Researchers have found that older adults with high blood levels of carotenoids – found in green leaves – had longer telomeres, which are the protective end caps on the 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 may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, and lead to a longer life.”

7. Soy

Dr. Dalzell notes that substances that occur naturally in soy can help fight heart disease, osteoporosis and skin aging – all linked to age-related declining estrogen levels. “Researchers found that adults who ingested 25 grams of soy protein a day for six weeks significantly reduced LDL cholesterol levels. Daily intake of 38 grams of soy improved bone mineral density and reduced fracture risk in perimenopausal women.” Try adding silketofu to smoothies to reap the benefits above (it will also add tons of plant-based protein to your drink).

8. Prunes

Digestion can slow down as we get older, and prunes are a great way to add gut-strengthening fiber to your diet. “In addition to improving regularity, researchers have found that adults who consume 80 grams of high-fiber prunes – equivalent to five or six prunes – a day have higher levels of bifidobacteria,” says Dr. Dalzell. “This is a form of healthy bacteria in the gut that helps displace unwanted bacteria during the aging process. Prunes are also unusually high in antioxidants, making them powerful cell protectors.”

9. Bipollen

This naturally sweet smoothie add-on pack has lots 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 long-term enhancing benefits.”

10. Brewed green tea

Every smoothie needs some kind of liquid to mix the ingredients together – and if you do not want to go for water, Rifkin loves to use green tea. “Plus, compared to water, it will provide a number of additional health benefits,” she says. “For example, it contains powerful antioxidants to support your cellular health and can even contribute to mental alertness and protect your body from heart disease and Cancer.” Depending on your favorite smoothie texture, she suggests adding a cup of green tea to your next smoothie.

For more on the life-enhancing benefits of green tea according to an RD, check out this video:

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