The Best Smoothie Ingredients To Slow Aging, Says Science
From wrinkles to weaker bones, signs of aging are simply a fact of life—but the good news is that you can help delay the process by adjusting your diet. Studies have linked certain foods, like those high in omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber, not only to anti-aging properties for more youthful-looking skin, but also in warding off cognitive decline or helping to maintain strong bones. In fact, there are specific smoothie ingredients you can eat to help slow aging.
"Nutrients, antioxidants, and other compounds in foods play a role in slowing aging by helping to maintain proper cell division and help keep DNA strands from fragmenting," says Heidi Moretti, RD, registered dietitian and resident nutritional advisor to Sovereign Laboratories. So, if you're a big smoothie fan (and who isn't?) RDs advise being mindful of what you're putting into your blender because a particular combination of anti-aging ingredients could very well lengthen your lifespan while also giving you an enviably youthful appearance.
Here are the best smoothie ingredients to slow aging, and what to know about the benefits of each food included. Then, for more advice on healthy beverage consumption, be sure to check out the 5 Healthiest Drinks To Give You Energy.
1 cup of blueberries
Blueberries are known to contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit. According to Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN, at Fit Healthy Momma, antioxidants help fight signs of aging by protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Not only that, but Reda Elmardi, RD, registered dietitian and owner of The Gym Goat, also notes that the antioxidants and other vitamins in these berries support eye and brain health as you age.
Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist of Root Nutrition & Education says blueberries also contain special compounds like phytochemicals and anthocyanins that may protect against heart disease, death, and cognitive decline.
"These substances make them anti-inflammatory and may help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure," explains Kimszal. "They may also help prevent degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's."
One 2022 study published in Nutrients also found that may be able to be used on a consistent basis to protect against cognitive decline in those who are at a higher risk of developing dementia thanks to their powerful ability to fortify cognition and combat cognitive decline.
1 teaspoon of matcha powder
"Green tea is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant known to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases and cancer," says says Ronald Smith, RD, registered dietitian with EatDrinkBinge. "Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases alpha brain waves to improve learning capacity and focus."
If you're looking for a way to incorporate green tea into your morning smoothie, you may want to try a specific type of green tea: matcha. One 2003 study in The Journal of Chromatography A found that matcha contains up to 137 times more EGCG—a plant compound found in green tea and matcha that is known to have cardio-protective and anti-inflammatory properties—than a regular cup of green tea.
Just be mindful that matcha has caffeine—which may be a bonus if you're starting your day with a smoothie and need a boost of energy, but may not be as ideal if you're sipping a smoothie later in the day.
1/4 of an avocado
Avocados is a delicious food source of omega-3 fatty acids, which Elmardi says are shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body, while improving brain function, eye health, and cardiovascular health. Smith adds that reducing inflammation is important as you age because it lowers your risk of arthritis, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
Along with omega-3's, avocados are also high in vitamin E. As Smith points out, this particular vitamin helps improve skin texture by keeping it soft and supple. This fruit's vitamin E content, along with its fatty acids, might explain why a 2022 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that avocado consumption increased skin elasticity and firmness in women. Who needs expensive anti-aging skincare products when your favorite creamy green fruit can offer the same benefits?
If you're looking for an extra-creamy smoothie texture, try chopping up your avocado ahead of time and popping it in the freezer, or you can save time and buy pre-frozen avocado slices. Either way, the frozen version will provide a denser texture to your smoothie.
3/4 cup of kale or spinach
Because leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in fiber, Smith says they'll help keep you feeling full longer. They're also chock full of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly and slow down the aging process.
"One study published in Neurology shows that leafy greens may help to prevent cognitive decline," says Kimszal. "They also contain antioxidants such as phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, α-tocopherol, and kaempferol, that can help to slow overall aging."
In the study, the participants that had the highest intake—a median of 1.3 servings per day—had a slower rate of cognitive decline that is comparable to being 11 years younger in age.
3/4 cup of fortified nonfat or almond milk
Every smoothie needs some liquid in the base to achieve the right consistency. RDs recommend using either nonfat milk or if you're lactose intolerant or vegan, fortified plant-based milk, like soy or almond. According to Smith, the most important aspect of the milk base of your choice is that it contains bone-strengthening vitamin D and calcium. These nutrients are especially crucial the older you get, since you naturally start to lose bone density as you age.
A loss of bone density can make your bones more brittle, which may leave you more vulnerable to breaks. Should such symptoms continue to worsen, it can snowball into osteoporosis. According to a report published in Nutrients, elderly adults should not avoid dairy or milk products because they can provide calcium, vitamin D, and protein, all of which are important for preventing osteoporosis. So, unless you're lactose intolerant, try a fortified dairy milk product as the base of your next smoothie for healthier aging bones.
1/2 cup of nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
Adding a dollop of yogurt to your smoothie will result in a creamier, richer consistency. But that's not the only reason to consider it. Experts advise adding some Greek yogurt to your smoothie, mainly because it provides probiotics. According to Moretti, these probiotics not only promote gut and skin health, but they also dampen the inflammatory compounds that speed up aging. One study published in BioMed Research International found that low diversity in the gut microbiome is associated with many age-related diseases. Incorporating more probiotics along with a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of these pathologies. It's also worth mentioning that yogurt is another excellent source of calcium, and some fortified yogurts even have an added dose of vitamin D.
A previous version of this story was published on February 23, 2022. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, additional research, and updated contextual links.
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