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The #1 Worst Breakfast to Eat After 50, Says Dietitian

Although hitting 50 certainly has its perks (you couldn't pay me to be in my teens again!), there are certainly chronic health conditions that start to creep up. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 78 percent of men and women ages 55 and up have at least one chronic condition, 47 percent have at least 2 or more chronic conditions, and 19 percent have at least 3 or more chronic conditions. These conditions include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cancer, and arthritis.

Food certainly plays a role in helping to prevent many of these chronic conditions, specifically type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, so it's very important that when choosing foods for any meal, including breakfast, there are some choices that should just be skipped to protect your overall health. One breakfast, in particular, is one that you should avoid after 50: fried chicken and waffles. Let us explain why.

READ MOREBreakfast Habits to Avoid for Weight Loss After 50, Say Experts

The #1 breakfast to skip after 50 is fried chicken and waffles.

chicken and waffles with gravy

Fried chicken and waffles topped with gravy is the worst breakfast to have after 50.

Sometimes when you put two delicious, decadent foods together it can create a dish with an overwhelming amount of calories and also racks up lots of saturated fat, and sodium.

This dish, when traditionally made, can be at least 1,000 calories. The chicken is fried, served over a very large waffle, and topped with butter and whole milk adding more saturated fat and sodium. I certainly recommend avoiding it as a regular part of your eating plan, especially if you have one or more of the chronic conditions people over 50 are at high risk of.

Certain foods, like those high in saturated fat, can increase your risk of chronic disease after 50.

The reason why I think a breakfast of chicken and waffles is so unhealthy for those over 50 is that this meal breaks three pieces of dietary advice that are meant to protect you from developing age-related chronic disease. That's because fried chicken, waffles, and gravy are (1) high in saturated fat from being deep-fried and covered in a butter-based gravy, (2) contain high levels of added sugar from pancake syrup, and (3) are high in sodium.

For example, Cracker Barrel's Fried Chicken and Gravy contains 14 grams of saturated fat (70% DV) and 2,140 milligrams of sodium (93% DV). Pour four tablespoons of pancake syrup (which, let's all agree is way less than you'd really use) over your waffles, and you're looking at consuming 30 grams of added sugar (60% of the daily limit) before noon.

The 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans (DGAs) were created with the goal to provide science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. According to the DGAs, the closer your diet aligns to the core elements of a healthy dietary pattern your risk for chronic disease will decrease.

Several important recommendations the DGAs provide is to:

  • Limit consumption of saturated fats to no more than 10% of total daily calories, or 20 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet. The American Heart Association (AHA) also says to limit the amount of saturated fat you eat, which include meats (especially fatty meats), the skin of the poultry, lard, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, coconut, palm oil, and some baked and fried foods.
  • Limit consumption of added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories, or no more than 50 grams of a 2,000-calorie diet. Added sugars add calories without many nutrients and tend to contribute to weight gain, a predisposition to many of these chronic diseases – and the AHA recommends keeping added sugar at bay for this reason.
  • Limit consumption of sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day (about 1 teaspoon). According to the AHA limiting foods that are high in sodium can help "lower your blood pressure and/or prevent high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) from developing in the first place"

You can still enjoy chicken and waffles but lightened up.

Knowing a few culinary tricks can help you still enjoy favorites with plenty of flavor.

In my cookbook The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook: Over 100 Tasty Recipes Using A Store-Bought Bird, I have a lightened up chicken and waffle recipe using a rotisserie chicken, without the skin and stacking it over a small portion of a homemade whole-grain waffle made with reduced-fat milk and unsweetened applesauce, and topped with a light gravy made with a combo of reduced-fat milk and low-sodium chicken broth and a touch of unsalted butter.

The results are mouthwatering!

Bottom line:

Once you hit the age of 50, some of these chronic diseases you've only read about start creeping up. Eating healthy should be done throughout your life to help minimize the risk of these chronic diseases. Find small hacks to lighten up favorites, so you can still enjoy your food!

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