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Reduce Inflammation With Lutein

Reduce Inflammation With Lutein

Check out our experts’ favorite smoothie recipes to get the most out of this phytonutrient.

When Sade (pronounced sha-day) sings Smooth Operator, your heartbeat slows, your shoulders relax and you feel calmer. That’s good for the heart and soul! Well, smoothies can do the same for you—if you make them with spinach or other dark green, leafy veggies.

Researchers from Sweden’s Linköping University have studied the nutrient lutein—a fat-soluble pigment that’s abundant in dark green vegetables—and found it tamps down inflammation in immune system cells and that your body stores it to use if needed to help cool heart-damaging inflammation.

That made them wonder: What’s the best way to prepare lutein-rich foods to make sure you get the most of that nutrient in every tasty mouthful? So, for a new study, published in Food Chemistry, they fried, boiled and steamed baby spinach and then measured the surviving lutein content. They compared that to raw spinach and found that the highest lutein levels were maintained when uncooked spinach was chopped into tiny pieces—like when it’s added to a smoothie. So, try our favorites!

  • Dr. Mike’s daily dinner green drink: For three to four servings, blend: 2 cups spinach; 2 cups cucumber; 1 head of celery; 1/2 inch or teaspoon ginger root; 1 bunch parsley; 4 tsp psyllium fiber (sugar-free Metamucil); 2 apples; juice of 1 lime; juice of 1/2 lemon.
  • Dr. Oz’s Spinach Shake recipe: In a blender, combine 3 cups spinach; 2 cups ice; 1/2 banana; 2 tbsp peanut butter; 1 scoop vanilla protein powder; 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.

Now you’re a Smoothie Operator.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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