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The 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You're 40+

1. Margarine
You really shouldn't be eating this stuff at any age. It’s bad for you, homeslice. But when
you’re in your 40s, its detrimental effects on your body are as plain as the nose on your face.
“Not all fats are created equal, and margarine — more often than not — seems to give [other]
fats a bad rep,” shares Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, MD, also known as Dr. Taz, a weight-loss expert
and author of What Doctors Eat and The 21-Day Belly Fix. “The culprit in margarine is trans
fat, which destroys hydration. The less your skin is hydrated, the faster the wrinkles appear.”

2. Colas
In the U.S., more people than ever are having children in their 40s. If you're considering
procreation, consider saying goodbye to all sodas. Why? Because in addition to being laced
with potentially cancer-causing dyes, they're the primary source of added sugar in the
American diet. Sugar negatively impacts ovulation and has also been linked to poor sperm
motility.

3. Cured sausages
While we’re on the subject, let’s flag some other foods that, ironically, are not sausage-
friendly. A 2014 study published in the journal Epidemiology found an association between
eating processed meats like salami and hot dogs and lower sperm count. The study authors
hypothesize that there’s something that happens during processing that's detrimental to sperm
quality — they’re just not quite sure yet what that is.

4. Iced coffee
Sadly, coffee is not the elixir of youth, and iced coffee may even hasten an older appearance.
Hear me out. Downing too much caffeine can interfere with sleep quality. That’s bad because
while we sleep, our cells repair themselves from the damage skin sustains from UV rays and
other skin stressors. Tossing and turning cuts into this rejuvenation time and can prematurely
age the skin. Oh, and the ice thing? Well, we tend to drink iced drinks through a straw.
Researchers have found that repetitive facial movements, like sipping through a straw, can
cause fine lines and wrinkles.
5. Microwave dinners
Convenient? Yes. Especially if your aim is to look bloated in a hurry. See, frozen meals are
notoriously high in sodium. “Sodium contributes to water retention and an overall puffy, aged
appearance,” shares Kayleen St. John, R.D., of Natural Gourmet Institute, a health-supportive
cooking school in New York City.

6. Bagels
So ubiquitous is the bagel that you might not think of it as a food that will age you. But a
bagel is a veritable carb bomb: The body converts refined carbohydrates into sugar and then
glucose, a nutrient that damages collagen and other wrinkle-fighting proteins. Picking whole
grains over refined will help keep your blood sugar levels even-kneeled, which aids weight
maintenance and loss.

7. Commercial muffins
Muffins equal muffin tops — no big surprises there. But they can also be bad for brains that
are now brimming with 40-plus years of information. Many commercial muffins are spiked
with waist-widening soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup and trans fats — ingredients that
have been shown to decrease brain power and zap memory.

8. Energy drinks
Drinks with a lot of sugar in them are bad. Drinks made with a sugar substitute are equally
bad. Your pearly whites are maybe the first part of you that shows the signs of an energy-
drink habit, as they can damage enamel and make it easier for stains to form on your teeth.
What’s more, their high caffeine and sodium content can lead to dehydration, especially if
you're drinking them instead of water. “Since dehydration is one of the main factors that
contributes to older-looking skin, aim to drink the recommended 8-10 glasses of water per
day — and even more if you’re consuming alcohol or working out,” offers Sarah-Jane
Bedwell, RD, LDN, a Nashville-based nutritionist and author of Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to
Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week.

9. Oreos
They're filled with delicious cream — and also with empty calories and waist-expanding fat.
“When we're younger, eating healthier seemed pointless when you could just go to the gym
24/7 to lose weight,” says Lisa Moskovitz, registered dietitian and founder of the NY
Nutrition Group. “Unfortunately, as the body ages, exercise still has plenty of positive
benefits, but weight loss is often not one of them.”

10. Baked Goods


“Baked goods and other sweets are often rich in added sugars and fat, which can lead to
weight gain and poor dental health,” says Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, a corporate dietitian
at Medifast. “Sugar promotes an unhealthy microbiome and it's also pro-inflammatory. All of
these characteristics can accelerate the aging process,” she says.

11. Veggie Burgers


They're seemingly innocuous, but when compared to burgers made from cows, veggie patties
compare poorly when it comes to providing Vitamin B12. If you want to forestall graying,
B12 is what you need. Worried about the fat and calories in a beef burger? Go for grass-fed.
It’s naturally leaner than conventionally raised meat and packs higher levels of omega-3 fatty
acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and turbo-charge fat loss.

12. Bacon, Ham and Sausage


Yes, breakfast meats are indeed delicious. We’re not going to deny that. But there’s also no
denying that several studies have been published in recent years which connect the
consumption of processed meats to several types of cancer including prostate cancer which,
when you hit your 40s, you’re at an increased and increased risk of having. “Preservatives
used in processed meats may create free radicals within the body,” says Lisa Hayim, MS, RD,
and founder of The WellNecessities. “Free radicals lead to oxidation of your cells and DNA,
and they can cause enough damage to lead to cancer or other health conditions.”

13. High fructose corn syrup


It’s in our 40s that gravity pulls hard on our jowls and doesn’t let go until we stage an
intervention or die. So give it a helping hand by avoiding this additive. See, while excessive
sugar intake is detrimental to looking young altogether, high fructose corn syrup is believed to
be the worst kind for your skin (and overall health), according to Deborah Orlick Levy, M.S.,
R.D., Carrington Farms health and nutrition consultant. “The sugar in your diet can damage
your skin’s collagen and elastin, making you look wrinkled with skin that is no longer firm,”
she adds.
14. Sugar
John Stamos or Rob Lowe notwithstanding, it’s currently impossible to stop the aging
process. It is, however, possible to preserve your youthful complexion by cutting back on
sugar, a nutrient that’s been shown to accelerate wrinkling and sagging. “Sugar causes
inflammation, which is a major inhibitor to having clear, beautiful skin,” says Dr. Taz. “To
make matters worse, sugar also damages collagen and elastin, which keeps the skin looking
soft and supple.”

15. Sugary cocktails


What do piña coladas, margaritas and mojitos have in common? They all contain large
amounts of the thing we just finished telling you about: Sugar. “When simple sugar is
consumed in excess, the sugar molecules combine with proteins in the body and form
compounds that can damage the skin's collagen. This, in turn, has an aging effect,” says
Bedwell. “These sweet drinks can have over 50 grams of added sugar in a single cocktail!
Plus, the alcohol in the drinks can dehydrate you, making fine lines and wrinkles more
apparent.”

16. Doritos
Unless you make some changes in how you move, getting older means a slowing metabolism.
To put it another way: With each passing year, the body requires and burns fewer calories.
This makes it all the more important to eat reasonable portions as you journey further into
adulthood. Everyone knows that when you open a bag of a snack like Doritos, you're bound to
polish it off. One of the first ingredients on the food’s label is monosodium glutamate (MSG),
an additive that’s been known to increase appetite and make foods taste more appetizing.

17. Booze
While the cocktails mentioned above contain more sugar than most drinks, drinking too much
of any booze isn’t known for giving you a fresh and youthful complexion. “Alcohol...robs the
body of vitamin A, an antioxidant that’s essential for cell renewal and turnover,” says Dr. Taz.
“If you do drink, reach for drinks without added sugars, such as wine, champagne, or a vodka
soda with lime. Also, be sure to drink in moderation and alternate each alcoholic drink with a
water,” advises Bedwell.
18. Charred meats
Burnt meat is a guilty pleasure for more than a few of us, but unless you’re in a hurry to look
weathered, you may want to consider skipping it all together. “Meat that has been cooked to a
blackened status is very inflammatory to the body,” explains St. John. “Inflammation may
actually break down collagen levels in the skin, leading to an aged appearance,” she says.
Research has also found that high consumption of well-done, fried or barbecued meats is
associated with increased risks of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer — all of which
we’re at higher risk of developing in our 40s.

19. Canned veggies


Are veggies good for you? Yes, provided they didn’t come out of a can. Why? Well, the
preservatives and sauces that keep the vitamin-filled veggies company inside the container are
packed with sodium. And if you prefer to sip your greens rather than chew them, you really
ought to stick with the freshly made varieties from a local juice shop (or your kitchen). The
bottled versions are filled to the brim with salt. For example, just 8 ounces of V8 Vegetable
Juice Essential Antioxidants has 480 milligrams of sodium. If you have to sip the bottled
variety, go for V8's low-sodium blend. It will save you 340 milligrams of sodium, which over
the course of a month can really make a difference in your blood pressure levels.

20. Cottage Cheese


You might not expect that cottage cheese would raise your blood pressure, but a one-cup
serving can carry almost 700 milligrams of the stuff. That’s more than one-third of what
you're supposed to consume in an entire day, according to the FDA. A better protein-rich
option would be a container of Greek yogurt. It's a low-salt, high-protein cottage cheese
substitute that we're big fans of.

21. Jerky
Beef jerky's appearance is where steak meats scab, but it’s trendy despite that, thanks to the
Paleo craze. A small 1-ounce serving can have more than 700 milligrams of salt — over four
times what you'd find in the same serving of chips! Packed with protein? Yeah. But it’s also
got plenty of salt. That's bad news if you’re hitting your 40s and would like to have a healthy
ticker for decades to come.

22. Fried Chicken


Grilled chicken breast is a great option for losing fat and putting on/maintaining muscle, but
when you keep the skin on and dunk it into a deep fryer, the nutritional reality of your meal
changes fast. One 4-ounce serving of fried chicken with skin on has as much cholesterol as 11
strips of bacon! Do your heart a favor and opt for a more heart-healthy piece of poultry.