You probably don’t consider soup an unhealthy food, especially since it’s so easy to pop open a can for lunch or dinner. But the canned stuff tends to contain tons of sodium, and research has shown that older people aren’t able to filter out excess sodium as well as when they were younger. “High levels of sodium in the diet can elevate blood pressure, and can also increase the risk of osteoporosis,” says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. Plus, “as we age, we are also more susceptible to water retention, so reducing sodium can help to reduce unwanted bloat,” Palinski-Wade says. She suggests making your own soups and freezing them in individual portions for easy defrosting, or at least selecting low-sodium canned options.
It’s time to say goodbye to those ballpark franks—as well as other highly processed meats like bacon and salami. “Processed meats are high in sodium, saturated fats, and nitrate [a preservative], all of which may have a negative impact on health,” Palinski-Wade says. High intake of processed meats has been linked with a greater chance of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stomach cancer—and we already have an increased risk of those diseases as we age. “If you do select processed meats, opt for ones made without nitrates and choose lower fat, lower sodium varieties when possible,” she says. This is the absolute best diet for women over 40.