Adding this type of milk alternative to your spinach smoothies will boost the anti-inflammatory benefits significantly, says an RD

A PSA for green smoothie drinkers: There’s an easy way to significantly boost the anti-inflammatory benefits of your favorite beverage, and it’s as simple as adding a splash of coconut milk.

Why? While green smoothies always have good-for-you ingredients (veggies + frozen fruit + liquid of your choice), new research suggests that combining coconut milk and spinach in smoothie form is a great idea for those hoping to compose green smoothies. antioxidants in the drink.

We spoke to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a Charleston-based registered dietitian, to find out why this simple combination is packed with anti-inflammatory benefits (hint: it’s thanks to lutein, a powerful antioxidant found in spinach ). Plus, we share three easy coconut milk green smoothie recipes to make tomorrow morning or right away.

Why coconut milk and spinach boost antioxidant levels when making green smoothies

In a recent study published in the journal NutrientsResearchers in Sweden have found that lutein, an antioxidant in spinach (and other dark leafy greens), is best released for nutrient absorption when combined with coconut milk.

Lutein is a pigment found in many foods, including egg yolks, avocados and spinach. Consumption of lutein is linked to eye health benefits and brain health benefits. Some data shows that adequate lutein consumption is linked to a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration, says Manaker.

One way to get more of this eye-health-boosting antioxidant? Combine it with the right ingredients, that is synergistic. Fat can help the body absorb lutein. That said, while it’s not bad to consume sources of lutein without fat, your body may benefit more if you consume it paired with certain foods, says Manaker. Eating large amounts of lutein does not guarantee that it will actually be released from the food matrix and absorbed. Since lutein is said to be lipophilic, meaning it dissolves in fat, taking it with a source of fat helps the body utilize this carotenoid.

But this is not exactly new. Previous data from the same researchers showed that dairy fat Candies improve lutein content in spinach smoothies, Saus Manaker. That said, what’s new in this new study is that they delved into the effects of alternative milk options, more specifically, which revealed that some types are just as (if not more) effective than dairy milk. This new data suggests that coconut milk is the best choice for those who live a dairy-free lifestyle and want to maximize their lutein absorption when they consume spinach smoothies, Manaker says.

To put this into perspective, the study showed that high- and medium-fat cow’s milk, as well as coconut milk with and without additives, significantly improved lutein release by 36%, 30%, 25%, and 42%. %. , respectively, compared to mixing spinach with water alone. Meanwhile, soy milk with and without additives significantly reduced lutein release of 40% and 61%, respectively.

While the research presented is promising, Manaker says any form of vegetable intake is good in her book. Therefore limiting oneself to drinking green smoothies only if, and only if, coconut milk is available it is not the goal, either. While this study is interesting, as a dietitian, I am thrilled when people consume spinach smoothies, no matter what liquid they use. Spinach smoothies are typically packed with fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods, she says. And since most Americans don’t eat enough produce every day, any method people choose to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets is a positive step in a health journey.

TL; DR? If you’re an almond milk lover or oat milk aficionado, Manaker says go for it. I wouldn’t let their preference for milk deter them from continuing to enjoy their green smoothie the way they like, he says. But if you’re in the market for coconut spinach green smoothies, here are three great sipping options.

3 Easy Antioxidant-Rich Green Smoothie Recipes

Photo: Chia’s choice

1. Blueberry spinach smoothie

You are only six ingredients away from making this delicious spinach and blueberry smoothie by choosing Chia that tastes like a tropical vacation. Made with coconut milk, blueberries, banana, spinach, and maple syrup, you’ll never want to make a green smoothie any other way ever again.

Get the recipe: Spinach and blueberry smoothie

Photo: eating bird food

2. Tropical green smoothie

Why limit yourself to one alternative type of latte when you can have them all? This easy tropical green smoothie recipe from Eating Bird Food combines the best of the world’s coconut and almond milks for a deliciously refreshing drink.

Get the recipe: Tropical green smoothie

Photo: eat by April

3. Green avocado smoothie

Want even more anti-inflammatory benefits? Look no further. This avocado green smoothie recipe from Eats by April combines ingredients like ginger, avocado, mango, spinach, cilantro, lime, and, of course, coconut milk for a one-two punch—lots of flavor and antioxidants all in one.

Get the recipe: Tropical green smoothie with avocado and spinach

An RD explains the benefits of drinking green juice:

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