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5 Foods to Avoid as You Age: Learning to Live Without Can Help You Live Longer

Sep. 13 2023, Updated 4:15 p.m. ET

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Here are five foods to avoid as you age — because learning to live without certain foods can actually help you live longer.

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1. Canned vegetables

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Unlike a pot of fresh vegetable or lentil soup, the packaged variety is packed with sodium. “High levels of sodium in the diet can elevate blood pressure and can also increase the risk of osteoporosis,” said dietitian Erin Palinkski-Wade, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. Plus, “as we age, we are also more susceptible to water retention, so reducing sodium can help to reduce unwanted bloat.”

2. Hot dogs … as well as bacon, salami and other processed meats

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High in sodium, saturated fats and nitrates, they've been linked to heart disease, diabetes and stomach cancer. “[But] an occasional hot dog at a ball game, a festive ham at family gatherings — these aren't going to kill you,” offered Karen Collins, a nutrition advisor at the American Institute for Cancer Research. Don't make them “a part of your everyday pattern of eating … just limit them to a special occasion.”

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3. Fried foods

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“While French fries and egg rolls may be tasty, they're often sources of unhealthy fats and oils,” explained the folks from the National Council of Aging. “Fried fare is typically high in trans fats, hydrogenated oils and tropical oils, which raise cholesterol and are linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer [and] obesity.”

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4. Pastries

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“High in calories, fat and sugar, starting your day with a donut, pastry or other sweet treat is one of the worst things to eat, as these foods are linked to overweight and obesity,” said dietitian Julie Upton, co-author of Energy to Burn. “They provide little satiety and can increase your craving for sweets all day.”

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5. Grapefruit

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Per the senior experts at Arizona’s Sun Health Communities, “If you take certain medications to treat high blood pressure, anxiety or insomnia, you may have been advised not to eat grapefruit. [It] can intensify the effects of some drugs, potentially making them dangerous.”


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