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 to not only anti-aging properties for more youthful-looking skin, but also warding off cognitive decline.
“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, 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 drinking tips, be sure to check out our list of The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.
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.
“Blueberries are packed with nutrients that help improve memory and coordination and decrease the risk of cancer,” says Ronald Smith, RD with EatDrinkBinge. “They also contain vitamin C, which aids in collagen production for younger-looking skin.”
Finally, Jeanette Kimszal, RDN of Root Nutrition & Education says blueberries contain special compounds like phytochemicals and anthocyanins that may protect against heart disease, death, and cognition decline.
“These substances make them anti-inflammatory and may help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure,” she explains. “They may also help prevent degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
How’s that for a superfood?
“Green tea is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant known to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases and cancer,” says Smith. “Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases alpha brain waves to improve learning capacity and focus.”
One 2003 study in The Journal of Chromatography A found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than low-grade 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 not as ideal if you’re sipping a smoothie later in the day.
Avocados are one of the best food sources 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. According to Smith, reducing inflammation is important as you age because it lowers your risk of arthritis, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
Avocados are also high in vitamin E. According to Smith, this particular vitamin helps improve skin texture by keeping it soft and supple. That might explain why a 2022 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found 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?
Because leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in fiber, Smith says they’ll help keep you fuller for longer. But they’re also chock full of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.
“Research shows these 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.”
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 milk).
The important thing, says Smith, is that it contains bone-strengthening vitamin D as well as calcium. These nutrients are especially crucial the older you get since you naturally start to lose bone density as you age. As bones become increasingly brittle, you are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. One of the best ways to avoid this is to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
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 offers probiotics. According to Moretti, these bacteria not only promote gut and skin health but also dampen the inflammatory compounds that speed up aging.
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.