Let's face it, as we age, there are certain people who just no longer qualify to be our BFFs. Turns out there are some foods like that too. Who needs anything that's going to clog our arteries, raise our blood pressure or cause us even more restless sleep?
Here are five foods that the experts say midlifers would do well to steer clear of:
1) Cut out the white stuff. Yes, salt.
Too much salt in your diet negatively impacts your blood pressure. Salt causes your body to retain water and the extra water your body stores raises your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, kidneys, arteries and brain. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. The amount of salt you eat has a direct effect on your blood pressure.
Adding insult to injury is that if you have too high a salt intake, it may mean that some blood pressure medicines (such as diuretics) don't work as well as they could.
While you may already know to push away the potato chips, salt lurks stealthily in other foods including processed meats and cheeses, frozen food, pizza and even breakfast cereals.
2) Bacon is not your friend.
About one in three adults in the U.S. suffers from arthritis or a related chronic joint problem and there are certain foods that will only serve to aggravate the problem. Researchers have learned that COX-2 enzymes are more active and cause more joint inflammation when you eat more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. High up on the Arthritis Foundation's list of no-no foods is bacon, along with meats, egg yolks, corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and cottonseed oil, margarine and pretty much anything fried.
3) The third glass of wine.
Yes, we all cling to those studies that show a moderate amount of wine is good for our hearts. The problem comes in the definition of moderate. Nobody is calling a half-bottle a night "moderate." Light-to-moderate alcohol use means having two to seven drinks per week, according to the National Institutes of Health. Heavier drinking can hurt your heart and liver. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people who abuse alcohol.
4) The evil side of sugar.
Most people avoid sugar to avoid gaining weight. But that's only part of the sugar story. Researchers have found that too many sweets can make you age faster in a number of ways. When you eat sugar -- whether in the form of a pint of ice cream, a candy bar or the carbohydrates in a basket of dinner rolls -- your body converts that sugar to glucose. One major health issue linked to high blood glucose is diabetes. The Mayo Clinic says diabetes itself is dangerous enough, but it can also lead to further health problems such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage or nerve damage. Diabetics can also experience skin, mouth and bone problems that make the body look and feel older than it should.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes. A 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates -- the same amount of carbohydrates contained in 10 teaspoons of sugar. Throw energy and sports drinks in the same kettle, or at least read the labels to see how many carbs you are ingesting. And for the record, you don't need a sports drink just because you spent four hours walking around the mall.