15 Foods That Could Shave Years Off Your Life

fried fast food fries onion rings chicken fingers

Convenience often trumps health when it comes to food choices. From the allure of fast food drive-thrus to the tempting aisles of sugary treats in supermarkets, we’re surrounded by culinary culprits that can cut years off our lives. But if we want to better our health and longevity, understanding what foods to steer clear of becomes vital. Although some of these items may be delicious, they are best avoided if you are focused on your well-being.

young woman eating a hamburger
image credit: ViDI Studio/shutterstock

Sugary Beverages

These tempting drinks, from sodas to sweet teas, are packed with sugars that contribute to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. Consuming them frequently can lead to weight gain, putting strain on the heart. Instead, opt for water, herbal teas, or drinks without added sugars. Remember, what’s sweet today could sour your health tomorrow.


Once thought to be a healthier alternative to butter, margarine contains trans fats, which can raise bad cholesterol. Instead, choose healthier fats like olive oil or even small amounts of real butter.

Processed Meats

Bacon, sausages, and hot dogs might be America’s favorite cookout staples, but they’re also loaded with sodium and preservatives. Regular consumption of these meats has been linked to heart diseases, cancers, and high blood pressure. Go for fresh, lean cuts of meat as a healthier alternative.

White Bread

While it might be fluffy and soft, white bread lacks the nutrients found in whole grains. Its high glycemic index can spike blood sugar levels, leading to energy crashes and increased hunger. Whole grain bread offers more vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making it a smarter choice for your sandwiches.

Fried Foods

French fries, fried chicken, and doughnuts are not just calorie-rich; they also contain harmful trans fats. These fats increase bad cholesterol and decrease the good, leading to a higher risk of heart disease. Consider baking, steaming, or grilling for a tasty, healthier option.

Candy and Sweets

Candy bars and gummies might give you a quick sugar rush, but they lack essential nutrients and are full of empty calories. Regular consumption can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and other health issues. For a sweet treat, try fruits or dark chocolate in moderation.

Salted Snacks

Chips and pretzels are popular, but their high sodium content can lead to high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease. Too much salt also causes your body to retain water, making you feel bloated. For crunchy cravings, go for unsalted nuts or veggies with hummus.

Diet Sodas

Even though they’re calorie-free, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate sugar. They’ve also been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s best to hydrate with water or naturally flavored seltzers.

Fast Food Burgers

High in saturated fats, sodium, and often paired with sugary drinks, these burgers can lead to obesity and heart disease. Their low nutrient quality can also affect overall health. Opt for homemade versions with lean meat and fresh ingredients.

Canned Soups

They might be convenient, but many canned soups contain alarming amounts of sodium. This can raise blood pressure and lead to heart-related issues. Always check the label or make your soup from scratch with fresh ingredients.

Microwave Popcorn

Beware of the bags! Many brands use chemicals for the lining, which, when microwaved, can leach into your popcorn. These chemicals have been linked to health problems. Opt for air-popped popcorn and add your toppings.

Sugar-Filled Cereals

Breakfast is important, but many cereals are more like dessert in a bowl. High sugar content can lead to obesity and other health concerns. Look for cereals with whole grains and low sugar.

Artificial Creamers

Your morning coffee’s best friend might be hiding trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. These can increase bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Use real milk, almond milk, or other natural alternatives.

Ice Cream

This favorite dessert is often loaded with sugars and unhealthy fats. Consuming it regularly can contribute to weight gain and increased sugar levels. Look for healthier alternatives or enjoy them in moderation.


While occasional drinking might be okay, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver disease, heart problems, and other health issues. Drink in moderation and always ensure you’re making safe choices.

Josh Dudick

Josh is the owner and lead writer at Daily Wisely. His career has taken him from finance to blogging, and now shares his insights with readers of Daily Wisely.

Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh has over 15 years of experience on Wall Street, and currently shares his financial expertise in investing, wealth management, markets, taxes, real estate, and personal finance on his other website, Top Dollar Investor.

Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business.