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A fancy presentation doesn't make charcuterie any healthier — remember, it's just another term for deli meat.

Travel & Lifestyle: 9 Healthy-Seeming Foods And Drinks Scientifically Linked To A Shorter Lifespan

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While certainly no one has complete control over how long they’ll live, it’s encouraging to know that there actually is a lot in our control. An estimated 80% of chronic disease and premature death is prevented by having healthy diet and lifestyle habits in place.

There are literally hundreds of scientific studies linking certain foods to longevity. Chances are, you already know the general gist of what it means to eat healthy: Fill up on plant-based foods and keep ultra-processed products to a minimum. But according to doctors specializing in preventative medicine, there are other foods and drinks people enjoy regularly believing they support health, but they actually don’t. Curious as to what the biggest surprises are? Keep reading to find out.

1. Alcohol — Including Red Wine

While it isn’t exactly breaking news that margaritas and shots of Jagermeister won’t add years to your life, most people give red wine a free pass, believing it’s the one alcoholic drink that’s good for your heart. Sorry, but it’s not.

New reports conclude that even moderate drinking, including red wine, may contribute to the onset of cancers, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation — and also indicate a significant increase in premature aging and death when drinking 25 grams of alcohol daily,” said Dr. Amy Myers, a functional medicine doctor. “This equates to less than two cocktails, two 12-ounce beers or two 5-ounce glasses of wine daily. We now know a glass of red wine doesn’t have the benefits it was once thought to have,” she added.

Dr. Sara Szal Gottfried, a clinical assistant professor in the department of integrative medicine and nutritional sciences at Thomas Jefferson University, told HuffPost that drinking alcohol in any amount is bad for longevity. She explained that alcohol is a neurotoxin and also raises cortisol levels, which disrupts sleep and raises blood sugar — two ways it wreaks havoc on health. “There is no upside to alcohol. The very thing you want it to do — relax you, help you feel regulated and energized — it’s actually stealing from you,” she said.

2. Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is one of those drinks with a very shiny health halo, so beneficial that parents give it to their kids throughout the day. But unless your juice is truly fresh-squeezed, chances are it’s not all that healthy.

“Fruit juice often contains high levels of added sugar and lacks the fiber found in fruit,” said Dr. Nilda Abellera, the medical director of integrative medicine company Infuze MD. Many fruit juices contain as much as 30 grams of sugar, which is about the same found in soda. It’s recommended to keep sugar intake under 36 grams a day for women and 25 grams a day for men because it is so detrimental to health.

3. Diet Sodas

Is reaching for a diet soda actually better for longevity than going for a regular soda? Scientific research points to no.

Abellera explained this is because of sodas’ artificial sweeteners. “Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin have raised concerns due to their potential impact on metabolism, health risks, disruption of insulin response, alteration of gut microbiota and the potential for overconsumption,” she said. She explained that diet sodas are calorie-free, which sounds great but it actually confuses the body’s energy-regulating mechanisms, potentially leading to increased cravings and overeating.

Family medicine doctor Dr. Alexander Golberg told HuffPost that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas negatively impact the good bacteria in the gut. This, he said, impacts health in many different ways, including hurting immune health and overall well-being. Gottfried summed up artificial sweeteners’ impact on health and longevity this way: “Artificial sweeteners are a good idea gone wrong.”

Anna Janecka via Getty Images

A fancy presentation doesn’t make charcuterie any healthier — remember, it’s just another term for deli meat.

4. Charcuterie

If you think nibbling on a charcuterie board is healthier than eating a bigger, well-rounded dinner, think again. The reason charcuterie isn’t good for longevity is because of the cured meats. “There is strong evidence linking processed meat to various forms of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes,” said Dr. Norma Barbosa Rivera, an internal medicine doctor.

Abellera added to this, saying, “Processed meats like bacon, sausages and deli meats are linked to various health risks, including a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. The main culprits are the additives used in processing, such as nitrates and nitrites, which are associated with an increased risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.” She added that processed meats tend to be high in sodium and saturated fats, which can elevate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Charcuterie may look cuter than deli meat, but it’s not any healthier.

5. Granola Bars

Granola bars are one snack that sounds like a longevity slam dunk. But Golberg told HuffPost they’re very misleading. “Often marketed as healthy snacks, many granola bars contain high amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats,” he said. For example, some granola bars are made with coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat, a type of fat linked to increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

To ensure the granola bar you’re eyeing is truly healthy, check to make sure it’s low in sugar, saturated fat and sodium and has at least three grams of fiber per serving.

6. Flavored Yogurt

Yogurts with flavors like key lime pie, New York cheesecake and peaches and cream certainly sound tastier than the plain versions. They just might be, but they unfortunately aren’t as healthy.

“Flavored yogurts may seem nutritious, yet they often contain significant amounts of added sugars,” Abellera said. Golberg echoed this, saying that many flavored yogurts are loaded with added sugar. If you want to sweeten your yogurt, add your own fruit to it instead; it won’t have the added sugar that artificial flavorings have and it also ups the amount of fiber, making your snack even healthier.

Many smoothies contain as much sugar as a milkshake

PM Images via Getty Images

Many smoothies contain as much sugar as a milkshake

7. Smoothies

Making a smoothie at home where you’re controlling all the ingredients is one thing, but Golberg and Abellera both said that smoothies you don’t make yourself often contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners, turning this notorious health food into one that’s not so healthy. Many of the smoothies at Jamba Juice, for example, have between 43 and 100 grams of sugar per smoothie.

8. Acai Bowls

Acai is often heralded as a superfood, but Gottfried told HuffPost that açai bowls are another food that are often loaded with sugar. “When I see an article on superfoods, it makes me slightly crazy. Is eating an açaí bowl the size of a soccer ball really a good idea?” She explained that, for most people, eating an entire açai bowl significantly increases blood sugar levels, which can increase the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

9. Heat-and-Eat Meals

Golberg shared with HuffPost that prepared meals made to be heated in the microwave or oven are often made with harmful additives. Two in particular are butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which have been shown to cause cancer in animals and alter DNA.

While the foods and drinks on this list may not be as healthy as you thought, what it really comes down to is this: If you want to center your diet around longevity-supporting foods, minimize foods high in sugar, made with alternative sweeteners, processed meats and additives — and save alcohol consumption for special occasions, if you choose to drink it at all. There are still plenty of longevity-supporting foods and drinks left on the table to enjoy in abundance. With hope, you’ll be enjoying them for many, many years to come.

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