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The #1 Worst Food to Eat to Live to 100, Science Says

This food may be quick and easy, but it can ruin your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

There are places in the world where it's very common to live to be 100 years old. But in the United States, the average life expectancy is only 77 years, which is below the average for the rest of the world. While there are things we can't control like genetics or age, there are things we can control like the food and drinks we consume. And according to research, one of the worst foods to eat if you want to live to be 100 is any type of ultra-processed food.

So if you want to live over a century, here are a few reasons why eating ultra-processed foods regularly won't help. Then, for more healthy aging tips, make sure to check out The Best Foods for Women to Slow Aging After 50.


They contain little nutritional value.

The main difference between ultra-processed foods and unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods is that the nutrients in unprocessed foods are still present. Ultra-processed foods usually contain little to no nutrients and include added sugars, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and other additives instead.

These include foods like packaged baked goods like cakes and cookies, frozen dinners, fast food, sodas, and packaged salty snacks like chips.

These ultra-processed foods are not only lacking in nutrients and vitamins, but they can lead to some health issues if consumed regularly.

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They increase your sodium intake.

Woman reaching for chip and holding soda in processed junk food array on table with popcorn

Many processed foods come loaded with sodium, which can be harmful to your health. According to the FDA, diets that are higher in sodium are linked to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

High blood pressure is also known to increase as you age, so keeping your sodium intake at a minimum is important for longer life.


They make you gain weight.

fast food

Another potential side effect of eating ultra-processed foods is weight gain. In a study from Cell Metabolism, it was found that a diet higher in ultra-processed foods was associated with an increase in body weight.

Gaining some weight here and there isn't necessarily a health concern, but if small weight gain turns into excess weight or obesity, it could lead to an increase in health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

RELATED: The Scary Connection Between Ultra-Processed Foods, Sugar, and Cancer, Doctor Reveals


They increase your risk of all-cause mortality.

open bag of chips
The Organic Crave Company / Unsplash

Regular consumption of ultra-processed foods can actually shorten your life. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that higher daily consumption of ultra-processed foods (more than four servings a day) was associated with a 62% increase in all-cause mortality among participants. Each additional serving after then increased mortality risk by another 18%.

This study also suggests adhering to a diet that is low in processed foods in order to live a longer, healthier life, specifically something like the Mediterranean diet.

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