We all know that establishing good eating habits is vital for good health, and many people make a reasonable attempt to do so. And while we all have our vices when it comes to food, some of the most seemingly harmless eating habits can actually affect your longevity.
Nobody is perfect, of course, and trying to eat well 100% of the time is no way to live. However, if you’re guilty of too many of these common eating habits, you may want to make a few changes.
A love of red meat
Hamburger | sergeyryzhov/Getty Images
It’s tough to turn down a delicious cheeseburger or steak now and then. But diets heavy in red meat are linked to early death, especially when combined with other unhealthy habits. Your best bet is to treat red meat as an occasional treat rather than a diet staple.
Next: In this case, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Too many refined grains
Grains | iStock.com/Nastco
Grains aren’t unhealthy — in fact, they’re recommended as part of a balanced diet. But unlike whole grains, which contain the entire grain kernel, refined grains like pasta, white rice, and white bread, have been processed and are devoid of most nutrients. Stick to whole grains as often as possible.
Next: Do not avoid these sweet natural treats.
Not enough fruit
Fruits | firina/iStock/Getty Images
If you avoid eating fruit because of the sugar or carbohydrate content, beware: Fruits are rich in many essential nutrients that are often under-consumed, like potassium and folic acid. Eating a cup or two of fruit every day can lengthen your life span.
Next: You probably see this one coming…
Not enough vegetables
Roasted veggies | Magone/iStock/Getty Images
“Eat your vegetables” is more than good advice from your parents. Much like eating fruit, consuming vegetables daily can lead to a long, healthy life. And if you never eat them, you’re cheating yourself of quality years. Try to eat five servings of produce every day.
Next: It’s time to kick that soda habit for good.
A love of sugary beverages
Sodas | Radu Bercan/iStock/Getty Images
Here’s a startling statistic: For people aged 25 to 64, sodas and other sugary beverages were associated with more early deaths than any other dietary factor. And not only can excessive soda consumption send you to an early grave, you’re at an increased risk of stroke and dementia if you drink it regularly. Replace your sugary drink habit with water, tea, or seltzer water.
Next: Just say no to the bread and butter at dinner.
Eating solid fats
Butter | YelenaYemchuk/istock/Getty Images
According to Livestrong, the habit of eating too many solid fats like beef fat, butter, and shortening caused 2.3% of diet-related deaths by stroke, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Solid fats contain saturated fats and trans fats, both of which are terrible for you when you consume too much of them. Try to replace them with heart-healthy oils like avocado or olive oil when you can.
Next: Eating too much of these meats is a death sentence.
Too much processed meat
Processed meats in the grocery store | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A diet rich in processed meats has been linked to early death for years. The preservatives and nitrates in bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and cold cuts are disastrous for your health. Eat them sparingly.
Next: Fish is fantastic.
Not enough seafood
Seafood | Lisovskaya/Getty Images
Do you avoid eating seafood? You may want to reconsider — according to Livestrong, MyPlate.gov recommends eating 5 1/2 ounces of seafood daily. Of course, it’s unrealistic (and expensive) to try and eat fish every day, so if you have salmon, trout, anchovies, or other low mercury seafood a few times a week, you’ll reap the omega-3 fatty acid and protein benefits.
Next: Go nuts.
Avoiding nuts and seeds
Bowl of nuts | Amarita/iStock/Getty Images Plus
If you don’t like nuts or seeds, you may want to work them into your diet, at least occasionally. They’re loaded with fiber, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats, and eating a handful of nuts a day can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%.
Next: Too much of this stuff can wreak havoc on your blood pressure.
Eating too much sodium
Snacks | RoniMeshulamAbramovitz/iStock/Getty Images
Everyone loves a salty snack, but according to Livestrong, the leading cause of diet-related cardiometabolic death in 2012 was high sodium. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily intake to 1,500 milligrams. Avoiding processed foods, frozen dinners, and packaged snacks will help.
Next: Listen to your body’s cues.
Snacking when you’re not hungry
Assortment of snacks | JaysonPhotography/iStock/Getty Images
Are you guilty of mindless munching? Ignoring your body’s natural hunger signs can lead to chronic overeating, which can eventually kill you. Find a healthier way to alleviate your boredom.