The #1 Worst Food to Eat After 50, Says Dietitian
After you hit 50, you may find yourself faced with new and unexpected health concerns. According to the American Heart Association, the risk of cardiovascular disease jumps from affecting an average of 38% of the population between ages 40 and 59 to 68.5% of adults between 60 and 79, with rates of hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and stroke also increasing with age.
For many people, this means a newfound focus on health and wellbeing—including cutting back on some of the foods you used to eat with regularity. And while you may realize that fried foods and sugary desserts aren't exactly good for your health, registered dietitian Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, of Balance One Supplements, says there's one food you should avoid at all costs once you've hit 50: prepared high-sodium frozen meals.
Why you should avoid high-sodium frozen meals after 50.
"Frozen meals are easy to prepare and are often more affordable than purchasing all the ingredients for a full meal. Unfortunately, they are not designed with health in mind, even those that claim to be healthy contain large amounts of sodium, hidden fats, added sugar, and/or fillers and stabilizers," Best explains.
"Just one of these factors can be detrimental to your health, especially after the age of 50, but most of these convenience meals have more than one of the harmful ingredients. The sodium is of particular concern after the age of 50 considering its impact on heart health and blood pressure. A diet high in sodium, over the recommended 2,300 milligrams a day, can cause water retention in many people in an attempt to flush out the extra sodium. This leads to excess strain on the heart, kidneys, and vessels leading to a rise in blood pressure."
In fact, according to the CDC, 90% of Americans are getting too much sodium in their daily diets, with grain mixtures—including those used in frozen foods—being the second-highest source of sodium in the average American's diet.
If you want to limit your sodium intake, "It is best to bypass these meals and opt to prepare homemade meals that can be frozen and used later for convenience and control over the nutrient quality," Best says.
High-sodium frozen meals aren't just dangerous for those over 50 from a nutritional standpoint.
However, it's not just the ingredients in those frozen meals that could be a potential source of harm. A 2017 study published in the Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that, among a group of 5,402 adults aged 19 and over, men who regularly consumed frozen food had significantly higher levels of BPA—a chemical the study's authors describe as a "known endocrine disruptor"—in their urine than those who ate frozen food less frequently.
Of course, not every frozen meal is packaged in plastic that contains BPA, and some may be lighter on sodium than others, so when in doubt, read the label on those frozen foods carefully and consider eating them a bit more sparingly if you want to protect your health.
For some healthier additions to your freezer, check out The Best Frozen Foods To Stock In Your Freezer, Say Dietitians, and for the latest healthy living news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!