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30 Foods You Should Never Eat Again After Age 30

The best part about being a grown-up is having the freedom to do—and eat—whatever you want. But it's time to start fueling your body.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

Even if you don't feel any different than you did in your teens and twenties, the body changes in ways that make it harder to lose weight and remain in good health. To help you age gracefully into a body you'll want to flaunt no matter how many years go by, we dug into the science of aging and nutrition to uncover the foods that should never pass your lips after you've celebrated the big 3-0.

Read on to find out which foods to chuck from your pantry now that you're in your thirties.

1

Flavored yogurt

Flavored yogurt
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Already cutting back on candy and cookies? Don't assume you're in the clear. Many sources of the sweet stuff are hiding in less obvious places like bread, ketchup, and flavored yogurts. Yes, flavored yogurt can have as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream if you're not careful.

For better alternatives, here are The 9 Best Low-Sugar Yogurts, Approved by Nutritionists.

2

Canned soup

Canned soup
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A study published in 2013 found a connection between high blood pressure and skin aging, in which compared to their older-looking counterparts, female study participants with fewer wrinkles also had lower blood pressure. Although the connection between the two issues remains unclear, there's no harm in cutting back on sodium, a mineral that's known to raise blood pressure. Not sure how to start scaling back? Head to your pantry and take a hard look at your shelf-stable soups. U.S. guidelines call for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but many popular cans carry 40 percent of the day's recommended salt intake in just one serving. But that's not the only reason you should stay away from the stuff. Many soup cans are laced with BPA, a chemical that's been linked to cancer, infertility, and weight gain. Our suggestion: Next time you're craving something warm and comforting, head to the kitchen and whip up one of these 18 Best-Ever Fat Burning Soups instead.

3

Breakfast pastries

strawberry poptarts
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Put your hands behind your head and step away from the Pop-Tarts—and all of those sugary muffins and scones, too. You're a grown-up now; it's time to start eating like one. Most sweet a.m. treats pack over a day's worth of sugar into a standard sized serving that spells trouble if you want to become a parent one day and live to see your kids grow up. Sugary diets cause a slew of health problems, including insulin resistance, which can lead to PCOS, a condition that's been linked to female infertility. And if you're lucky enough to start a family despite your diet, your sugar habit may lower the odds you'll live long enough to see your little one grow up. People who consume between 17 and 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar have a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar, according to a 2014 study. To stay safe, ditch the junk and kick off your day with some of these 37 Best Breakfast Foods for Optimal Weight Loss instead.

4

Charred meat

Spicy Grilled Jerk Chicken with Lime and Spices
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Grilling is a quick way to whip up a meal and it's obviously a summer staple, but cooking steaks and other proteins at such high temperatures over an open flame can produce heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These harmful chemicals have been found to alter the DNA and increase your risk of cancer.

5

Soda

soda
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If you're thinking about starting a family, consider soft drinks your archenemies. The reason? Soda is laced with potentially cancer-causing dyes and are the primary source of added sugar in the American diet. And not only does sugar negatively impact ovulation, but it's also been linked to poorer sperm motility, too. Simply put, sipping the stuff may make it more difficult for you to conceive.

Need more proof? Here are 40 Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Soda.

6

Oreos

Oreos
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Whether you like Red Velvet Oreos, the Birthday Cake variety, or can't live without the Mega-Stuff, all of Nabisco's twist n' lick cookies have one thing in common: They're filled 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 registered dietitian and founder of The NY Nutrition Group Lisa Moskovitz. "Unfortunately, as the body ages, exercise still has plenty of positive benefits, but weight loss is often not one of them." When it comes to dropping pounds, staying away from calorie-dense, hard-to-put-down snacks like Oreos is key.

7

Cocktails and beer

cosmopolitan cocktail on bar in tall glass
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As we age, the body doesn't metabolize alcohol as efficiently, and drunk junk food cravings become harder to ignore, warns registered dietitian Martha McKittrick. "It's also increasingly difficult to get a good night's rest with alcohol in your system. While you may have been able to get away with minimal sleep in your 20s, that's not the case in your 30s and beyond. Sleepless nights lead to carb and sugar cravings the next day, which can contribute to further weight gain," McKittrick says. What's more, alcohol sucks the moisture out of your skin, which temporarily makes fine lines more noticeable, and, over time if you continue to booze, causes the skin to lose elasticity and form wrinkles.

8

Bagels and white bread

bagels
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Unless your go-to bagel is made with whole grains, consider it a skip food. Though you may not think of the popular breakfast carb as a sweet indulgence, the body converts refined carbohydrates into sugar and then glucose, a nutrient that damages collagen and other wrinkle-fighting proteins. What's more, when it comes to bread, bagels and even pasta, picking whole grains over refined will help keep your blood sugar levels even, aiding weight maintenance and weight loss, giving you a more youthful figure.

9

Chinese takeout

Dumplings chicken soy sauce
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You already know Chinese takeout meals have tons of sodium, but in addition to making you feel thirstier, sodium can also take the moisture out of your skin and raise your blood pressure. Dry, dull skin is the last thing you want for your complexion, right?

Want to make healthier dishes right at home? Here are 15 Flavorful Asian Recipes That Are Better Than Takeout.

10

Veggie burgers

Veggie burgers with vegetables
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Finding your first gray hair is a day you'll never forget. It's one of those pesky reminders from Mother Nature that you're a full-blown adult—and an unwelcome one at that. The best way to keep early graying at bay is to ensure you're getting enough vitamin B12, a nutrient naturally abundant in beef. So unless you're a vegetarian, don't cut the cow out of your diet. Worried about the fat and calories? 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 turbocharge fat loss.

11

Iced coffee

Iced coffee
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Drinking a caffeinated beverage out of a straw—how most of us down our daily iced coffee—is a skin-aging double-whammy. During the day, we're exposed to skin-stressors like UV rays, but while we sleep our cells repair themselves. However, downing too much caffeine can interfere with sleep quality, cutting into this rejuvenation time and prematurely aging the skin. What's more, researchers have found that repetitive facial movements, like sipping through a straw, can cause fine lines and wrinkles.

Instead of sucking down your daily iced coffee with skim, sip on hot green tea, which may ward off wrinkles by fighting inflammation and improving the skin's elasticity. And if you're trying to lose weight, opt for one of these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss.

12

Sugar-free snacks

Artificial sweeteners
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If you've become thicker around the middle since turning 30, it may be a sign that your liver isn't functioning optimally. Avoiding toxins like artificial sweeteners will help the vital organ work more efficiently, and in turn, slim your middle. To jump-start the detox process, kick foods made with fake sweeteners (like sugar-free gum, candies, and snacks) to the curb.

13

Produce loaded with pesticides

Apples and strawberries
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Reaching 30 means that you've had three decades to accumulate toxins from food, which can negatively affect metabolism and hormone balance, explains Smith. Researchers have also found that men who consume the most pesticides through produce have far fewer motile sperm than guys who've eaten the least—not good news if you're trying to start or expand your family. The most popular produce that has the highest amounts of pesticides and should be organic whenever possible include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.

14

Margarine

Margarine stick
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Butter alternatives like margarine are often made with partially hydrogenated oils, one of the most common trans-fats. You may have heard that this type of fat is linked to heart disease, but what most people don't know is that it may also accelerate the skin's aging process by making the skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation. When the skin gets damaged by the sun, it breaks down the skin's elastin and collagen. But that's not all: studies have also found that eating margarine can cause chronic inflammation, which may also accelerate wrinkle formation. Yikes!

RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.

15

Frozen diet meals

frozen pasta dinner
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"When you were younger, you may have been able to starve yourself to drop a quick ten pounds before bikini season, but this is almost impossible once the age 'odometer' turns to 30. Not to mention, it's really unhealthy, " warns Chicago-area registered dietitian Christine M. Palumbo. Skip the unappetizing microwave diet meals—they tend to lack satiating nutrients like fiber and pack excess salt, sugar, and chemical additives your body simply doesn't need. Instead, lose weight with the help of these 29 Best Sources of Protein for Weight Loss.

16

Bacon

bacon strips on grill
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Bad news, bacon lovers: This beloved breakfast food may make your skin start to sag well before your AARP card arrives. The reason: Sixty-eight percent of bacon's calories come from fat, with almost half of that being the saturated variety. Besides contributing to weight gain and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, saturated fats can cause inflammation that accelerates skin aging. Bacon and other processed meats also contain sodium nitrate which, according to a 2013 study published in the journal European Cytokine Network, enhances oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause structural changes in collagen and elastin (the proteins that keep skin looking young), resulting in premature wrinkles, explains St. Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology researchers. Luckily, you don't have to give up bacon altogether to keep your skin smooth. Just switch to a nitrate-free variety with less than 2 grams of fat and no more than 1 gram of artery-clogging saturated fat (like Applegate Natural Good Morning Bacon) and cut yourself off after two slices.

Or, better yet, make one of these 50 Healthy Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss instead!

17

Skinny coffee drinks

Iced coffee drink
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When it comes to drinks laced with artificial sweeteners, just say no! Researchers say these Frankenfoods confuse our bodies by making us expect calories that aren't there, which interferes with our body's ability to regulate what we eat. The result is what they call "metabolic derangements" like poor insulin response and elevated glucose levels, which can lead to fat storage and a host of illnesses like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. "If drinks with artificial sweeteners are a staple of your diet, it's best to kick the habit to maintain health and prevent diseases throughout the aging process," says Moskovitz.

18

Pancake syrup

Maple syrup
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If you've whipped up a batch of pancakes for breakfast, you're most likely going to reach for the syrup to drizzle on top. But there's one thing to keep in mind: These syrups contain high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to metabolic syndrome including abnormal weight gain, increased triglycerides, and increased harmful visceral fat around the gut, according to Princeton researchers. You don't have to give up the sweet stuff completely though. Go for real maple syrup instead, or try an antioxidant-packed fruit compote!

19

Cheese dips

Cheese dip and tortilla chips
Twenty20

Going for the real deal is always a better option, so don't turn to cheese dips ever again if you're looking for something to satisfy your nacho craving. A lot of these dips not only have artificial colors and flavorings and food additives, but are labeled as "cheese flavored," which means it's not all real cheese you're about to scoop into. Slicing up actual cheese you melt yourself is the best way to go.

20

Soy sauce

soy sauce bottle
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Puffy, dark circles under the eyes tend to become more pronounced with each passing birthday—and being dehydrated makes matters even worse. To wake up looking refreshed, steer clear of moisture-sucking salty foods like soy sauce (a mere tablespoon of the stuff has a whopping 879 milligrams of sodium) and drink plenty of water. Sick of basic H2O? Whip up one of these 50 Best Detox Waters for Fat Burning and Weight Loss.

21

Salami and hot dogs

Hot dog bun ketchup
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Meat may be considered the ultimate man food, but if you gobble down the wrong kinds, your sperm may pay the price when you're thinking about starting a family in your 30s. A 2014 study published in the journal Epidemiology found an association between eating processed meats like salami and hot dogs and lower sperm count. And interestingly enough, the meat's saturated fat content—a nutrient previous associated with poor sperm quality—wasn't to blame. 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.

22

Caffeinated ice cream

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An occasional after-dinner scoop of ice cream isn't terrible, but it's best to avoid caffeinated ice cream, so the coffee flavor is off the table. Coffee ice cream—which has the caffeine equivalent to a half-shot of espresso—may have never messed with your sleep before, but once you're in your 30s, caffeine can take more of a toll on the body. "As we age, our circadian rhythms change, as do our hormones, which can make us more sensitive to caffeine and affect our ability to sleep soundly," says Smith. Metabolism slows down as we age, so slacking on shut-eye will only add fuel to the waist-expanding fire. And speaking of metabolism, keep yours running in high gear with the help of these 50 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.

23

Chips

baked potato chips
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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, and yes, that applies to snacks, especially when it comes chips. Everyone knows that when you open a bag, you're bound to polish it off—and it's no surprise, really. Just think about how you can easily kill an entire bag of Dorito's without noticing. That's because the recipe was specially designed so that no single flavor overpowers another and when foods lack a dominant flavor, people are less apt to feel full and, in turn, consume more, say researchers. With all of these factors working against you, it's really no wonder you're defenseless when these chips come around.

24

Sports drinks

Sports drinks
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Whoever invented the Gatorade Dunk—the tradition in which winning sports teams dump coolers of the stuff on their coaches—was really on to something. One scan of the nutrition label and it's clear: The sports drink is better off seeping into the sidelines than your stomach. Sure, it provides critical post-workout electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, but it also serves up a hearty helping of calories and sugar. And the fact is, you likely don't need the extra calories and sugar found in the sports drinks—no matter how hardcore your Crossfit or barre class may be, says Smith. "As we age, our metabolism slows, we're also less active and more stressed, which can change the way that the body metabolizes calories and sugar." The less sugar you have in your system, the better it is for your abs and overall health. And speaking of getting a flat stomach, check out these 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat.

25

Processed peanut butter

Spoon peanut butter
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Peanut butter might seem like a childhood staple that you can still enjoy, but there are tons out there are that actually not good for you at all. Processed peanut butter spreads often contain a lot of added sugars and hydrogenated and processed vegetable oils, which can raise cholesterol levels. Stick to the natural stuff, and you can still have a PB sandwich every now and then.

And here are 27 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Peanut Butter.

26

Commercial weight loss bars

stack of protein bars
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If you're running late one morning and don't have time for a proper breakfast, you might reach for a 'weight loss' bar. They're quick and easy and seem like they're good for you, but many of these bars actually have a ton of ingredients you don't need, such as artificial sugars and inflammatory palm oil. Plus, even if it's billed as a weight loss bar, how healthy do you think a chocolate-covered bar can be? You'll have a sugar crash in no time (which could leave you tired and hungry for more), and added sugar should be avoided.

27

Boxed mac and cheese

mac and cheese from a box
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Boxed mac and cheese is most likely another favorite from your childhood you still want to indulge in, but these commercial boxes contain a lot of sodium and also contain blood-sugar-spiking empty carbs coming from the white shells. It's best to avoid these and make your own mac and cheese that's much healthier for you—not to mention, a homemade version isn't neon yellow from a powder. Again, using real cheese is key.

28

Canned fruit

Canned fruit peaches
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When in doubt, always go with fresh fruit over anything from a can. Canned fruit is packed with syrup and artificial flavorings that will do nothing but add to your waistline, something you don't want to be doing now that you're older and dropping pounds isn't as easy as it once was.

29

Processed pasta sauce

Jarred marinara sauce
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Processed pasta sauce—yes, the ones that come in a jar that you see everywhere—while convenient, oftentimes contain loads of inflammatory oils, added sugar, and salt. Check out The Unhealthiest Pasta Sauces On the Planet for a full breakdown.

30

Coffee creamer

Coffee creamer
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Coffee creamer and sunblock have more in common than you might think. They both contain titanium dioxide, an ultraviolet radiation blocker that doubles as a whitening agent. You don't want to drink that, right? Coffee creamer is also typically still packed with trans fats, often hiding under its lesser-known name: hydrogenated oil. Need another reason to stay away? Moskovitz says trans fats can cause inflammation, which can exacerbate aches and pains brought on as the result of a sports injury and aging.

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Read more:

30 Foods You Should Eat More of One You Turn 30

30 Easy Ways to Lose Weight After 30

30 Healthy Habits to Start By Your 30s

 

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more
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