Until age 55 or so, if you asked us what three foods we would want with us if we were stranded on a desert island, the answer would likely have been: wine, bread and cheese. But as we age and our metabolism slows down, sometimes our favorite foods stop being our friends. Here are nine foods that midlifers love that don't love them back.
1. Classic potato chips.
Back in middle school, many a friendship started because one person liked the dark potato chips and the other liked the light ones. Potato chips were the proverbial lunchbox snack. And then we learned about that demon: Salt.
Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. Too much salt can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
Most of us know not to add salt to cooked food. But salt can be found in just about everything, so even when you don't go looking for it, it finds you. And so we are told now to avoid salted chips, pretzels, crackers, snacks, and processed food. About 80 percent of the salt we consume every day is "hidden." And certainly, never dance with this dude.
2. Mac and cheese.
How low a blow is this one? The original comfort food from our childhoods turns out to be bad for us in so many ways. Typical mac-and-cheese ingredients — whole milk, butter, and cheese — are loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol. You can almost hear your arteries hardening as you go for seconds. Sure you can attempt this dish made with fat-free versions of the real stuff. That or just accept your fate and move on.
What's the point of a glass of milk if you have nothing to dunk in it? Partially hydrogenated oils are more than just not your friend. They are the devil incarnate. Eating trans fat raises the level of low-density lipoprotein -- or bad --cholesterol in the blood, says the Mayo Clinic. An elevated LDL blood cholesterol level can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.
But really, how bad are they? If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil” on a package, don’t buy it. Partially hydrogenated oils are usually present in packaged cakes, donuts, muffins, crackers, and processed meats like fish sticks.
Our advice: Just eat the hole in the donut.
4. Ice cream.
Sure the man who drove the Good Humor ice cream truck down the street when we were kids seemed like a nice enough guy, but honestly? He was peddling crack to our hearts in the form of frozen love. Did you know that a single cup of ice cream contains more cholesterol than 10 glazed donuts? For a healthier frozen dessert, try popsicles -- maybe even sugar-free.
5. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The staple of the school lunchbox -- please cut the crust off -- turns out not to have been mom's finest hour. Peanut butter requires a little label-reading. Aim for a brand that is just peanuts, and without hydrogenated oils that come loaded with trans fats. Because of labeling laws, if a serving of trans fats is 0.5 grams or less, manufacturers can legally say their products contain 0 grams of trans fats on the nutrition label -- which is a bit dishonest, don't you think? If you add up all those 0.5 grams of trans fats you eat in a day, you may be reaching that limit without even knowing it. It is, of course, still great fun to watch the dog trying to get the wad of peanut butter off of the roof of his mouth.
Remember Sunday dinners when Mom would plunk down a huge rib-eye in front of Dad? Who knew she was secretly trying to kill him? Even with the fat trimmed, a 4-ounce rib-eye steak eats up a big chunk of the recommended daily allowance for saturated fat (20 percent) and cholesterol (22 percent). Stick to leaner cuts and reduce the amount of red meat you eat overall.
7. That third glass of wine.
Yes, we all hit the like button on those studies that claim a moderate amount of wine is good for us. But what do you consider moderate? Here's a news flash that is going to make some of you cry: Nobody is calling a half-bottle a night “moderate.” The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse defines moderate as having two to seven drinks a week. Anything more and you can hurt your liver and heart. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
OK, so there's a good chance that decades ago you told your Mom "enough with the white bread." In fact, once Wonder Bread stopped including balloons in the package, well, what was the point of buying a loaf? As our taste buds matured, we drifted away from the squishy Wonder Bread and began a life-long love of all bread that wasn't Wonder Bread.
But please listen carefully to that baguette calling to you from its perch next to the French brie. It's a siren's song, alright. It's time to man up here and keep walking -- away. The carbohydrates in bread convert to sugar in your body. The Mayo Clinic says diabetes itself is dangerous enough, but it can also lead to further health problems such as heart disease, kidney damage or nerve damage. Give bread the boot and tell it to take its stepbrother pasta along with it.
9. Root beer floats.
Once the highlight of your childhood summer day, this is now solidly at the top of your "never touch the stuff" list. Root beer floats were the reward for having to spend time with your cousins in the Catskills. You caught fireflies, swam in lakes and walked at least a mile into "town" to get your root beer float. How can something that tastes so heavenly be this bad for you? Just trust us: It is.