The sheer amount of diet options available to women trying to gracefully move into later phases of life is daunting — and not all of them are healthy for your health.
Many women over 50 are looking for diets that will help them maintain good heart and brain health, manage menopause symptoms, and improve their general health.
The following criteria were used to choose the diets in this article:
- It’s simple to follow: The diet does not require supplements, except from providing clear recommendations and short shopping lists.
- Adaptable: You can alter the recipe to suit your unique tastes and nutritional requirements.
It’s not too restricted. You won’t have to cut out major groups of items from your diet
- Well-balanced nutrition: You’ll consume a lot of healthy fats and proteins, as well as high-quality carbs and micronutrients.
- Evidence-based: The diet’s health benefits have been proven in scientific investigations.
Best all-around: the Mediterranean diet
For practically everyone, even women over 50, the Mediterranean diet is routinely rated as one of the healthiest eating habits.
This diet is based on the 1960s eating habits of people in Greece and Southern Italy. It has a low saturated fat intake. It’s mostly made up of vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, and whole grains, with olive oil serving as the main source of added fat.
Although the Mediterranean diet is mostly plant-based, it does include some fish and dairy, as well as limited amounts of eggs, chicken, and red meat.
Decades of research show that following this diet lowers your chances of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and mental decline as you get older.
In peri- and postmenopausal women, the Mediterranean diet was linked to a 30% lower incidence of obesity, according to one study.
Because of its versatility, the Mediterranean diet outperforms several other popular diets. There are no foods or dietary groups that are off-limits, including desserts and red wine in moderation.
If you’re interested in attempting it, Serena Ball, RD, and Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, have written “The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook.”
Best for heart health: the DASH diet
Heart disease is one of the major causes of death for women over 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Furthermore, after menopause, rates of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, rise dramatically.
The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is designed to prevent and treat high blood pressure, often known as hypertension.
It’s recognized for having a low salt content and a focus on foods high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are believed to help lower blood pressure.
The amount of sodium you can consume depends on your unique needs. Some people consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, while others consume as little as 1,500 mg. Both figures are in line with the American Heart Association’s salt guidelines.
Vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy are the mainstays of the DASH diet, which is supplemented with whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and chicken in modest amounts. Processed or cured meats are prohibited, while red meat and sweets are normally avoided but occasionally permitted.
Limiting salty, ultra-processed foods in favor of nutrient-dense, whole foods has several advantages, including lower cholesterol and better blood sugar control. Foods to eat and avoid in a depression diet.
To get started, read Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN’s “DASH Diet for Two.”
Best plant-based: the Flexitarian diet
The Flexitarian diet is a semi-vegetarian diet that consists primarily of plant-based foods but also includes meat, eggs, dairy, and fish on occasion.
Women who are lowering their meat intake for health, animal welfare, or environmental reasons are the most likely to adopt this eating habit.
The Flexitarian diet is an excellent choice for anyone looking to increase their fiber and plant protein intake while also acknowledging the nutritional worth of animal products and wanting to eat them when needed.
According to the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, committed vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of not getting enough iron and omega-3 fats, both of which are vital for women’s health.
The Flexitarian diet provides more iron and omega-3s from foods like red meat and fish than other stringent diets. It also has a higher calcium content, which is crucial for bone health in postmenopausal women.
According to a preliminary study, this eating pattern has extra weight loss, heart health, and diabetes-prevention benefits.
Check out Tracy, Dana, Lori, and Corky Pollan’s Flexitarian cookbook “Mostly Plants” to give it a try.
Best for brain health: the MIND Diet
Dementia is caused by a combination of factors, including age and gender, with women having a higher frequency than men. In fact, women account for nearly two-thirds of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
The MIND diet was created to help people avoid Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental deterioration as they get older.
“Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” is an acronym for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” It includes components of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that have been demonstrated to improve brain health, as the name implies.
Whole grains, berries, leafy greens, legumes, olive oil, and fatty seafood are all recommended. Fried foods, red meat, butter, cheese, and sweets should all be avoided.
The MIND diet has been shown in multiple studies to lessen the risk of dementia. While those who adhere to the diet religiously have the lowest risk, even moderate adherents may see a slower rate of mental loss.
To get started, read Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD’s “The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook.”
Best for women who are fed up with dieting: intuitive eating
If you’ve tried a slew of fad diets and are ready to break free from the dieting cycle, intuitive eating could be the answer.
Bone loss, rebound weight gain, compulsive eating, and a lower quality of life are all possible side effects of chronic restrictive diets.
Intuitive eating is an anti-diet approach that aims to change your diet mindset and help you have a healthy relationship with your body and food. It was designed by dietitians who believe that persistent dieting is harmful to one’s physical and mental health.
The ten core principles of intuitive eating are founded on notions such as making peace with food, honoring your health, and coping with emotions without the use of food.
There are no foods that are prohibited, and there are no guidelines for portion quantities or meal timing. Instead, the idea is to teach you how to listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues so you don’t have to rely on a specific diet to keep yourself emotionally and physically nourished.
Intuitive eating has been linked to enhanced psychological health and a lower likelihood of disordered eating in a recent study.
According to additional studies, those who stick to this strategy are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, while it’s important to note that weight loss is not the goal (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
If you’re interested in learning more about this method, Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN wrote the official guidebook “Intuitive Eating.”
How to choose the best women’s diet for those over 50
The ideal diet for a woman over 50 is one that she can stick to over time — and it might not be the same as the healthiest diet for her friend, sister, or neighbor.
Your diet should include meals that you enjoy, that make you feel well, and that provides your body with all of the nutrients it requires.
Consider your own demands when choosing amongst the diets on this list.
Choose the DASH diet if your primary goal is to lower your blood pressure. Try intuitive eating if you want to focus on self-care and a healthy relationship with food. The Mediterranean or Flexitarian diets may be appropriate if you simply want to eat a better, more balanced diet.
You’ll note that the diets discussed above have a lot in common. Each focuses on nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, lean protein, and antioxidants – all of which are important components of any diet.
Specific nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and B vitamins, should be consumed with caution by women over 50. Simple dietary changes or supplements may be necessary if you don’t think you’re getting enough of these nutrients.
Remember that you don’t have to make major dietary adjustments. Even if you’re not completely following your preferred eating pattern, little, incremental actions may nevertheless give considerable health benefits.
Consult your healthcare practitioner before making any big dietary changes or adding supplements to your routine to confirm that they are appropriate for you.
The bottom line
It might be difficult to decide which diet is ideal for a woman over 50, especially if she is undergoing bodily changes connected with aging.
Diets including the Mediterranean, Flexitarian, DASH, and MIND, as well as intuitive eating, can help your heart, brain, and overall health.
Choosing the perfect one for you necessitates a careful evaluation of your unique goals and dietary requirements. The greatest diet is one that you can stick to for a long time that keeps you feeling great.