If You’re Over 50, Avoid (Or Limit) These Foods

As we grow older, our bodies change. People over 50 have a higher chance of experiencing health issues. For example, as muscle and bone mass decreases, high blood sugar and obesity become a greater threat than before.

As a result, many people over 50 have to change their diet. While this change isn’t easy, it could help you live longer. Eating some foods could worsen your metabolism within one to two days. Others could raise your risk of blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol all at once. Here’s why you should avoid (or limit) certain foods after you turn 50.

Don’t Char Meat On The Grill

Grilled meats are tasty, and charring meat can give it them a unique taste in texture. However, recent studies have located a danger in charred meat. According to the National Cancer Institute, meats cooked at high temperatures may contain cancer-causing agents.

A man flips sausages on the grill.
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Sobli/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

In 2010, researchers at Vanderbilt University found heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in charred meat. HCA is a chemical that has been linked to cancer. Plus, the smoke contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which also increase your risk. You can avoid these chemicals by flipping your meat more or slicing off the charred bits.

Stop Cooking With Butter

Butter consists of 63% saturated fat. Now, saturated fat isn’t your enemy–consuming fat in moderation is perfectly healthy. But a scientific review in 2015 reported that replacing saturated fats with healthy fats lower your risk of heart disease by 27%. These replacements include olive oil and avocado oil.

Blue catfish is pan-seared in butter.
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Butter is also incredibly high in calories. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of butter packs 102 calories. If you’re trying to manage your weight (which gets harder with age, let’s be real), butter won’t help you. An easy health fix is to stop cooking with butter and save it for the occasional baked potato.

One Day Of Fast Food Can Have Consequences

Fast food isn’t healthy. That’s a no-brainer. But the real question is how often we can get away with eating fast food. During a 2015 study, researchers reported that eating fast food once a week may increase your risk of obesity. Eating it twice a week or more raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

A super-sized meal sits on a table at McDonald's.
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Richard Derk/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Plus, only a few days of fast food can change your metabolism. According to research in the journal Obesity, eating fast food over five days prevents your muscles from turning glucose into energy. Over time, this could result in insulin resistance and diabetes.

Fruit Juice Is Worse Than Soda

Although many people believe that juice has less sugar than soda, that’s not always true. An average cup of orange juice offers 21 grams of sugar, while unsweetened apple juice contains 24 grams. Researchers for the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that all juice is as unhealthy as soda.

An Iraqi vendor serves a glass of fresh orange juice at his citrus fruit stand.
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In 2019, a study of over 13,000 adults concluded that for every 12-ounce cup of juice you drink, your risk of death increases by 24%. That’s 11% higher than other sugary drinks. Do yourself a favor and avoid fruit juice altogether.

Refined Pasta Is Bad All-Around

Refined pasta, also called white pasta, is the most popular type of pasta. With more calories and lower fiber than the whole-wheat version, refined pasta is the white bread of pasta. In 2013, researchers examined over 117,300 pasta lovers and found that refined pasta increases the risk of heart disease.

A man prepares a pasta dish during his free time.
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ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images

But there’s more. During a larger study in Metabolism, researchers reported that refined pasta prompts increased blood pressure, blood sugar, unhealthy LDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, and body fat. It’s just bad all-around. Replace your refined grains with whole-wheat options for a healthier option.

Beware Of Pickles

As we grow older, high blood pressure becomes a more immediate concern. People are more likely to develop high blood pressure in their 60s, so you better start monitoring your salt intake. And what’s the epitome of “salty food?” Pickles.

An employee sorts through pickled gherkins.
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One tiny spear pickle contains around 600 mg of sodium–over one-third of your daily recommended dose. Eating too much salt thickens the blood and strains your arteries, which could lead to kidney, brain, and heart damage, according to Blood Pressure UK. If you can’t stay away from these salty treats, limit your pickle portions wisely.

White Chocolate Isn’t Even Chocolate

You may have heard that dark chocolate has some health benefits. But its cousin, white chocolate, is a bunch of empty calories. According to Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Jim White, white chocolate isn’t even chocolate. “It’s mostly vegetable fat and sugar,” he told Everyday Health.

A few brands of white chocolate bars are on display.

The USDA reports that a bar of white chocolate has 16 grams of fat, 20 grams of sugar, and 230 calories. And it does not provide the antioxidants that dark chocolate does. For your occasional dessert, choose a treat that won’t harm your cholesterol and blood glucose as much as white chocolate.

Grapefruit May Mess With Your Medications

Grapefruit supplies healthy minerals including vitamin C and potassium. So what’s wrong with it? According to the FDA, grapefruit can interact with certain medications, specifically drugs for high blood pressure and arrhythmia. Anti-anxiety and Crohn’s medications are also influenced by grapefruit.

Florida pink grapefruit is stacked for sale.
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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Grapefruit juice enhances your drugs by letting more into your bloodstream. With some medications, this could damage your kidneys or make you feel ill. Dr. Shiew Mei Huang says that the effects vary from person to person, but you should still check your medication warnings just in case.

Yikes! Canned Soup

Although canned soups are convenient, they offer a worrying amount of sodium. The FDA recommends eating a max of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, restrict that to 1,500 mg. But one-half cup of canned soup contains 890 mg–over one-third of the 2,300 mg recommendation!

A can of Campbell's Tomato Soup sits in a pot.
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Getty Images

Most canned food contains Bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical may result in hormone upsets or contribute to obesity. In 2016, a study in Environmental Research revealed that canned soup has more BPA than other canned foods–229% higher than fresh soup.

Fat-Free Salad Dressings Aren’t Much Healthier

Those who want to limit fat and calories may reach for a fat-free salad dressing. But by doing so, they may be denying some important nutrition. Most low-fat dressings are made with vegetable oils, many of which are high in trans fats. These fats may raise your risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A student at the University of California, Berkeley pours organic salad dressing on a salad.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Researchers at Purdue University discovered that these oils prevent your body from absorbing vegetables’ nutrients. In contrast, olive oil and canola oil help the body absorb minerals from the vegetables in a salad.

Make Sure Your Protein Bar Isn’t A Candy Bar

Can protein bars be healthy? Yes, depending on the brand. According to Certified Sports Dietitian Georgie Fear, some bars have over 30 grams of sugar–more than a candy bar! That also exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 28 grams of sugar per day for women (38 grams for men).

A woman holds a protein bar.

When shopping for protein bars, keep an eye out for fructose. Research in the 2008 American Journal of Physiology found that fructose may cause leptin resistance, in which the brain no longer tells you to stop eating. If you’re managing your weight or blood sugar, beware!

Is There Even A Bright Side To Bacon?

With its amount of fat, bacon can threaten anyone’s health in high amounts. In 2018, a British study of over 260,000 women reported that eating nine grams of bacon daily–which is less than one slice–may increase the risk of breast cancer. A similar study in 2019 found that one slice of bacon per day raises the risk of colorectal cancer.

Bacon is being cooked in a pan and moved with a fork.
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Oxford professor and researcher Tim Kay told CNN that four servings of bacon per week put adults at risk of cancer. If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, stay away from bacon. Its processed meat and high fat will only make those conditions worse.

American Cheese Is An Impostor

Cheese can provide a large host of benefits, including protein and calcium. But you won’t receive that with American cheese. That bright orange burger topping is a “cheese product,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At most, it’s 51% cheese with salt, oils, milk fat, and starch.

Blocks of American cheese are displayed in a store.
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When you’re over 50, you’re at risk of vitamin deficiencies, according to U.S. Pharmacy. You don’t want to eat empty calories like American cheese. “There’s really not much nutritional value,” explains Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Michelle Aradner. Pick another healthier cheese.

Potatoes, In Any Form, Can Harm You In Excess

Potatoes are so starchy that they could contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood glucose, especially if they’re fried. In 2017, scientists analyzed potato-eaters aged 45 through 79. Those who ate fried potatoes were twice as likely to die early than those who didn’t.

Yukon Gold potatoes are stored.
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Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

But overall, you should limit all potato servings. In 2016, a study in BMJ reported the women who ate potatoes (in any form) four or more times a week had a greater risk of high blood pressure. If you want to eat potatoes, limit your servings to one or two per week.

Breakfast Pastries Are Basically Desserts

If you’re worried about developing high blood sugar, don’t eat pastries for breakfast. A blueberry muffin, for instance, has 10 grams of sugar, and a regular chocolate doughnut has 11 grams. These pastries don’t have much protein or fiber, making them empty calories, according to Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Leslie Bonci.

Homemade glazed puff pastry cinnamon rolls with custard and raisins are on an oven tray over old dark blue wood.
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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

And you need protein during breakfast. In 2017, researchers discovered that high-protein breakfast improves insulin and blood glucose levels. Over time, a lack of protein greatly increases your chance of diabetes. Keep in mind that most people are diagnosed with diabetes in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Watch Out For Processed Lunch Meats

Processed meat has been artificially treated through salting, curing, or smoking. Most sliced lunch meats are processed. In 2015, the World Health Organization labeled processed meat as a carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. Researchers suggest that processed meat is more dangerous than red meat.

Man passes meat products for sale at a Perekrestok grocery store.
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In 2010, Harvard researchers analyzed 20 studies and concluded that red meat doesn’t predict diseases–processed meat did. Eating one portion of deli meat each day increases your risk of heart disease by 42% and the chance of diabetes by 19%. As you grow older, these risks grow more pressing.

Flavored Yogurt Has Too Much Sugar

Although yogurt is a great source of protein, most flavored yogurts pack on sugar. Some sweetened yogurts contain 36 grams of sugar–almost triple the amount of a chocolate doughnut! Even fat-free flavored yogurts can offer up to 26 grams of sugar.

An employee of a supermarket checks the yoghurt products displayed in the shop.

Dr. Andrew Nish of UnityPoint Health explained that the more sugar you eat, the more your body ages. Expect more wrinkles, sagging skin, and dark spots by eating sugar-loaded yogurt. Plus, Registered Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick says that eating that much sugar in the morning sets you up for more cravings later in the day.

Soda’s Effects Could Be Lethal

Sodas may be more unhealthy than you believe. During a European study in 2019, researchers found that drinking two sodas a day increases your risk of dying over the next 16 years. Even sodas without sugar created this effect.

A cart loaded with lots of plastic Coca-Cola bottles seen at a supermarket.
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Soda is also one of the leading causes of diabetes. In 2013, research in PLoS One noted that drinking only one can a day slightly increases your chances of type 2 diabetes. This link has been backed up in Diabetes Care, JAMA, and many other scientific journals. For the sake of your health, replace your soda with sparkling water.

Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t Much Better Than Sugar

Those who want to manage their weight may reach for a “sugar-free” drink filled with artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, these aren’t much better than sugar. According to research in Obesity, most artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain, not weight loss. They also cause you to crave more sweet foods, says a 2010 study in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.

A yellow-stained ceramic dish holds packets of Splenda.
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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

If you’re struggling to control blood sugar or weight, you may want to avoid artificial sweeteners. Then what can you eat? Try natural sugars in the form of honey, stevia, or agave. If you eat these in moderation, you won’t receive a sugar spike.

Potato Chip Chemicals Aren’t Healthy

In 2019, the UK created new safety guidelines around potato chips. It’s not because they’re high in fat or calories; it’s because many contain the harmful chemical acrylamide. The chemical stems from frying foods at high temperatures. The FDA asserts that this chemical raises your chance of cancer.

A woman eats potato chips.
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Classen/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Along with their chemicals, high fat, and cholesterol, potato chips are addictive. Research from the Imperial College of London noted that eating potato chips affects the same areas of the brain as drug addiction. No wonder they’re so tasty.