Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, age-related disease and is the most common type of dementia. This chronic condition often begins with mild memory loss and can lead to a severe loss of thought, memory, and language. In 2020, it was estimated that about 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to triple by 2060. There is not a clear cause as to what heightens the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but we know age is positively correlated with the illness, and it is suspected that family history and health behaviors like diet could influence risk.
The dietary pattern most closely linked with Alzheimer's disease protection is the Mediterranean Diet. This diet is reminiscent of the eating style which has been seen in traditional cultures among people living in the countries lining the Mediterranean Sea. In 2022, the Mediterranean Diet was deemed America's "Best Diet Overall" as well as "Best Diet for Healthy Eating" by U.S. News and World Report.
The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes that each day whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and healthy fats such as olive oil be consumed. The Mediterranean Diet advises eating two servings of seafood weekly, while only moderate amounts of dairy foods, eggs, and poultry are recommended. Red meat and sweets can be consumed only on an infrequent basis.
A terrific drink choice that aligns with the Mediterranean Diet for protecting brain health includes a well-made smoothie. Familiar smoothie recipes consist of a Mediterranean Diet-approved combo of fruit, milk, or yogurt, and added protein like nuts, sometimes whole grains, and even vegetables.
Fruit offers a natural hit of sweetness, while milk or yogurt delivers creaminess, protein helps to keep hunger pangs at bay, whole grains amp up fiber, and veggies add extra vitamins and minerals. Smoothies can be an appropriate snack replacement (aim for around a 300-calorie drink) and an easy way to get a nutritional boost.
Healthy smoothie combinations to blend up
Here are some healthy smoothie combinations to excite your taste buds while protecting your health. Add water and ice as needed to achieve appropriate consistency.
- 1 cup strawberries + 1 cup yogurt + 1/4 cup almonds + 1/4 cup oats
- 1 medium banana + 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup mango + 1/2 cup pineapple + 1 cup skim milk + 2 tablespoons chia seeds + 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 medium apple + 1 cup light almond milk + 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 1/4 cup oats
- 1 cup blueberries + 1 cup light oat milk + 1/2 cup silken tofu + 1/2 cup cauliflower