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40 Foods to Avoid After 40

Hot Dogs

Processed meats like hot dogs contain high levels of sodium and fat, which aren't great at any age. However, hot dogs have also been liked to higher risks of stomach cancer, diabetes, and heart disease--three conditions that already disproportionately affect people over 40. 

Sugar-Free Candy

If you're trying to be healthy, sugar-free candy sounds like a safe way to satisfy your sweet tooth, right? Unfortunately, you may want to think again. To compensate for the lack of sugar in sugar-free products, manufacturers often include extra fat to make them tastier. Additionally, artificial sweeteners can cause digestion problems in some people. 

Fried Chicken

High-temperature cooking methods, like deep frying chicken, can create cancer-causing carcinogens in the finished product. 

Canned Soup

Although it may be convenient, canned soup is generally packed with lots of excess sodium. And studies have shown that older people have a harder time filtering out all that extra salt. Sodium levels that are elevated for long periods of time can lead to heart problems and osteoporosis. 


High-sugar sweets like cookies spell bad news for healthy, wrinkle-free skin. The sugar found in them can lead to a process called glycation, which increases the rate at which our skin ages. 

Gluten-Free Bread

For those with a gluten allergy, avoiding it may be a necessity. But if you can stomach traditional bread, it's a better choice than gluten-free varieties. The fiber found in regular bread helps promote digestive and colon health--two things that become increasingly important as we age. 

Coffee Ice Cream

It might be a tasty after-dinner snack, but the caffeine found in coffee ice cream can actually disrupt your sleep schedule. As we age, falling and staying asleep becomes naturally more difficult, so we definitely don't need any extra help from unnecessary caffeine. 

Sports Drinks

For high-performance athletes, sports drinks are a necessity to keep them hydrated and keep their electrolytes in balance. For the rest of us, they're mostly a source of empty calories from sugar. And since excess sugar can speed up the signs of aging, it's best to avoid it when possible. 


In some ways, margarine is healthier than butter, but it's also a source of hydrogenated oil and trans fat--two things that increase your risk for high cholesterol and other heart problems. Since these issues crop up more frequently as we age, it's a safer bet to avoid margarine. 


Doughnuts contain all the things we should be avoiding after 40--extra sugar, white flour, and trans fats. In combination, these three can lead to problems like diabetes and heart disease. 


Pasta and other carb-heavy foods have a high glycemic index--which means they cause our blood sugar to spike quickly. For those dealing with diabetes, this can spell real trouble. However, a blood sugar spike can also damage your skin and increase the visible signs of aging. 

Hot Sauce

For some, spicy foods add a fun, culinary kick, but after 40, spicy things like hot sauce can create problems. In addition to high levels of sodium, hot sauce may also exacerbate hot flashes caused by menopause. 

Almond Milk

Almond milk has become a trendy (but delicious) alternative to traditional cow's milk, but for aging women, it could pose a problem. When you drink almond milk, you're not getting any of the calcium you would recieve from regular milk--and this can spell trouble in the form of osteoporosis. 


Grilled hamburgers may taste great, but they're another food that can lead to even more wrinkles. The grilling process creates compounds that promote glycation in the skin, which can create wrinkles and a dull complexion. 

Iced Coffee

Strangely enough, iced coffee is worse for folks over 40 than regular coffee--all because we typically drink it through a straw. The repetitive facial movements it takes to put your lips around a straw can actually increase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your mouth. 

Powdered Peanut Butter

Powdered peanut butter might sound like a healthy swap--you're getting rid of a lot of oil, after all. But peanut butter is a food that contains saturated or "healthy" fat, and when you don't get enough of it, your skin health can suffer. 

Egg Whites

Egg whites may have fewer calories and less cholesterol than whole eggs, but when you skip out on egg yolks, you're missing its most important nutrient--vitamin B12. Because our bodies become worse at absorbing B12 as we age, it's important to get it wherever you can find it. 

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is low-fat, but it is absurdly high in sodium--with over 800 mg in one serving. As we age, sodium like this can lead to all sorts of circulatory and heart problems. 

White Bread

White bread is a food that can lead to a quick spike in your blood sugar. In addition to posing problems for diabetics, this spike can also lead to unhealthy, wrinkle-prone skin. 


Bacon is full of delicious flavor...and saturated fat. This "bad" fat can lead to inflammation in the body, which runs the risk of causing arthritis flare-ups among other problems. 

Excessive Alcohol

A drink here and there is perfectly fine, but drinking alcohol regularly can lead to a number of issues. In addition to liver problems, excessive intake can promote osteoporosis and signs of aging on the skin. 

Diet Soda

When it comes to diet soda, you might skip out on the excess sugar, but those artificial sweeteners aren't a great option, either. They can lead to early signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. 


Bagels are a great anytime treat, but unfortunately, they're another food that can lead to quick blood sugar spikes--and all the health problems that go along with that. 

Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers for the most part are a healthy swap, but they're missing one crucial nutrient you find in beef patties--vitamin B12. This is a nutrient we need more of as we age, so it might be worth sticking with beef. 

Buttery Popcorn

Plain popcorn can be a healthy, low-calorie snack, but all bets are off when you start adding butter into the mix. The more you add of the artery-clogging good stuff, the less healthy this snack becomes. 

Beef Jerky

Excessive red meat consumption has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease--two problems you want to look out for as you age. Additionally, beef jerky is process, which means it's full of sodium and also increases your risk for some cancers. 

Protein Bars

Protein bars are generally a terrible place to get protein--most varieties come with a measly 10 grams. However, what's not in short supply in protein bars is sugar. It's bad for your skin, it's bad for your heart, and it's bad for pretty much every other body part. 

Soy Sauce

It's a tasty addition to dishes, but soy sauce is also a hefty addition of sodium to your diet. With a tablespoon having over 800 mg of sodium, it's no wonder that soy sauce can help promote dehydration and poor skin health. 

Frozen Pizza

High fat intake can leave your brain feeling foggy and dim, and one of the worst fat offenders in your freezer is pizza. Some varieties can have as much as 40% of your daily fat intake in a serving! 


In moderation, tuna can be a healthy protein source. However, this fish is also high in mercury, and when you consume too much of it, it can lead to cognitive decline. 

Coffee Creamer

Many brands of coffee creamer contain the ingredient titanium dioxide, which is used as a whitening agent in foods. In some studies, exposure to this chemical has been linked to memory loss. 


Crunching ice is an addictive but potentially destructive habit. It can lead to the breakdown of enamel on your teeth, which is already a worry as we get older. 

Deli Meat

Like other processed meats, deli meat contains high levels of sodium and preservatives that have been linked to several kinds of cancers. 


Butter truly is mankind's best friend and worst enemy. Although delicious, butter is high in saturated fat--which is the bad kind that can lead to all sorts of heart problems. 

American Cheese

Cheese can be a good way to get calcium in your diet if you're worried about osteoporosis, but American cheese isn't your best bet. Since it's not technically a cheese at all (it's a "cheese product") it comes with all sorts of unecessary and potentially unhealthy preservatives and additives. 

Breakfast Pastries

They might be a quick and delicious way to start your day, but breakfast pastries are full of saturated and trans fats. Both kinds of fat can spell trouble for both your heart and skin. 


Because pickles must soak in brine in order to become pickles (and because brine is highly salty), they're a snack that's incredibly high in sodium. Is a dill pickle really worth your healthy skin and heart? 

White Chocolate

While real chocolate can be a good source of antioxidants, white chocolate contains none of them. It's basically just sugar and fat--which isn't great at any age. 

Ribeye Steak

Ribeye steaks are delicous, but they're that way because they're so fatty--which can spell trouble for your heart. If you've got to eat beef, opt for a leaner cut to avoid all those fat problems. 

Low-Fat Milk

As strange as it may seem, full-fat milk might be better for older adults trying to keep their waist line in check. According to one study, low-fat milk was less effective at promoting weight loss in middle-aged women than full-fat milk.