Turning 50 marks a crucial stage in every woman’s life. At that age, the body is going through significant changes, making it important to keep it healthy and sustain the passage of time.
Dieting is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy body, making it essential for women over 50 to keep in check with their meals. However, picking the right eating plan for you may turn out to be a more challenging task than it looks like. Here’s what you need to know.
7 Best Diets for Women Over 50
Women over 50 often struggle with keeping up with the changes in their bodies, regardless if they’re caused by menopause or other reasons. Yet, maintaining a healthy and varied diet will help you look vibrant and juvenile while also making you feel comfortable in your body.
These seven diets for women over 50 are adaptable, easy to follow, and rich in every nutrient your body needs. None of these is too restrictive, meaning you won’t have to make significant changes to your diet. And more importantly, all of these diets are evidence-based and are often recommended by nutritionists and dietitians to their patients.
The already popular Mediterranean diet comes from Southern Italy and Greece — two regions widely known for their delicious gastronomy. Based on mainly eating legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, this eating plan allows for sophisticated plates that’ll make you forget that you’re on a diet (1).
However, delicious meals aren’t the only reason this diet is so popular. The foods the Mediterranean diet promotes are nutrient-dense, making them beneficial to your body without adding extra calories. For example, leafy greens are known for keeping you satiated thanks to a special compound called thylakoid (2)
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Similarly, it can benefit overweight people, improving their health and preventing weight gain. Similar studies also show that the Mediterranean diet prevents obesity in post-menopausal women (3, 4).
To get started with the Mediterranean diet, stock yourself on vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fruits. These will be the center of your diet — seafood, poultry, and eggs are also allowed, but to a lesser degree.
Related: Mediterranean vs Palo diets
DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” which lets you see the main focus of this eating plan — heart disease prevention. Post-menopausal women often have higher blood pressure levels due to the changes in their bodies. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk for heart disease, one of the leading causes of death for women over 50 (5, 6).
The DASH diet is an eating plan created by experts to reduce high blood pressure in people of all ages. Thanks to the increased consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, and lean meats, this eating plan offers short-term results regarding hypertension (7).
On top of the cardiovascular benefits, the DASH diet also effectively lowers the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. Naturally, it also reduces the risk of cardiac events that may come from an inefficient cardiovascular system. More studies are required to confirm the effectiveness of this diet in the long term (7).
One of the biggest problems with the DASH diet is that it has a low compliance rate among people who try it. The high volume of vegetables, fruits, dairy, and lean meats may be discouraging for people who are used to eating highly processed foods. If you want to try this eating plan, make sure to get creative with the recipes to avoid dropping out of the diet (7).
The famous Paleo diet is based on the eating plan of our ancestors in the paleolithic era, before agriculture was discovered. Lean meats, seafood, and vegetables are the core of this diet, making it one of the top choices for losing weight. However, it also has unique benefits for some conditions.
For example, it has been shown to increase glycemic control and insulin sensitivity — two crucial factors for managing type 2 diabetes. The Paleo diet is also suitable for treating specific cardiovascular conditions, although more research is needed in that regard (8, 9).
However, one of the most relevant aspects of the Paleo diet is that it can be beneficial to post-menopausal women. A recent study links this eating plan with a reduced tendency in fat-promoting factors after six months of sticking to the diet. This means that the Paleo diet may help obese women over 50 lose weight more efficiently to maintain a healthier figure (10).
The Paleo eating plan is one of the most restrictive diets on this list, as it has specific foods that are completely off-limits. For example, legumes, grains, and processed foods are almost entirely forbidden when following the Paleo diet. Instead, you should opt for seafood, lean meats, and vegetables.
The WFPB diet, also known as “whole-food, plant-based diet,” is an eating plan that rejects meat and processed foods. Embracing vegan ideals, this diet encourages eating only plant-based meals, with a few minor exceptions such as eggs. These strict conditions allow you to reap all the benefits of a vegan diet and avoid all processed foods.
Vegetarian eating plans like the WFPB diet have long been known to be better for losing weight than non-vegetarian ones. Plus, experts suggest that plant-based diets could also help modulate gut microbiota — improving the health of your gastrointestinal system. However, more research is needed to confirm these theories fully (11, 12).
The WFPB diet, like most plant-based eating plans, has shown to be beneficial for women over 50. Recent research shows that these diets promote a greater decrease in fat mass than animal-based, ketogenic eating plans. By reducing fat mass, you’ll enjoy all the health benefits of maintaining a healthy figure and avoiding obesity (13).
One of the great advantages of the WFPB diet is that it doesn’t force you to follow a strict eating plan. Instead, it provides some general guidelines and allows you to take control of what and how much you eat. The most crucial rule is that your meals should be mostly based on whole grains, vegetables, and seeds.
As its name indicates, the MIND diet is focused on protecting cognitive function and reducing related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” Combining elements of Mediterranean and DASH diets, this eating plan is ideal for people looking to support their brain health (14).
Women over 50 may find the MIND diet more valuable than men, as Alzheimer’s disease is more common among women than men. A recent study shows that two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women (15).
Experts suggest that the brain-supporting properties of the MIND diet come from its astounding nutrient diversity. From carotenoids to flavonoids, this eating plan contains various compounds that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Similarly, the MIND diet may also help people with heart conditions, diabetes, and cancer (16).
If you’re considering the MIND diet, stock yourself on whole grains, leafy greens, seafood, and beans. For sweets, try to opt for nutrient-dense fruits such as berries. Naturally, foods such as butter, cheese, or red meat are mostly off-limits, along with fried or processed meals.
The Flexitarian diet has become increasingly popular over the last few years as a way to combine vegetarian with non-vegetarian eating plans. By allowing you to eat non-plant–based foods occasionally, this diet lets you reap the benefits of most other diets. Plus, it’s one of the least restrictive diets you can find.
The Flexitarian diet originated as a way to solve a fundamental problem with veganism — not getting enough nutrients. Vegetarians and vegans are often at risk of low intake of, for example, iron and omega-3 fats. To solve this, flexitarianism allows the occasional intake of red meat and seafood (17).
Research suggests that the Flexitarian diet provides weight loss and metabolic benefits, which could help with diabetes. Similarly, it has shown promise in reducing gut inflammation, which could be helpful for people with conditions such as Crohn’s disease (17).
The Flexitarian diet doesn’t rely on a strict eating plan but instead gives you a few general guidelines to follow. Most importantly, you should avoid meat, seafood, and other animal-based foods. Instead, replace them with plant-based alternatives whenever possible.
Related: Flexitarian Diet Guide
Intuitive eating is a relatively new idea that proposes an anti-dietary approach to keeping a healthy figure. It originated as a response to “chronic dieting” — the tendency some people have to always be stressed about their diets. Instead, intuitive eating allows us to listen to our bodies without following a strict diet.
Research shows that intuitive eating is closely linked to a lower risk of obesity in both men and women. Furthermore, it’s been shown to promote weight stability, solving the “yo-yo dieting” problem(18).
Yet, not all of the benefits of intuitive eating are physical. This diet has an enormous impact on mental health, reducing binge eating and improving self-esteem. Similarly, it can help treat and prevent depression and body dissatisfaction (19).
Intuitive eating is the perfect choice for anyone who can’t maintain a strict diet that forces them to a specific eating plan. Through intuitive eating, you’ll learn to listen to your body and only eat whenever necessary, avoiding binge eating and excess calories.
How Can I Complement a Healthy Diet?
Whether you’re going on a diet to lose weight, to treat a specific condition, or simply to keep your body healthy, it’s always a good idea to complement it with other habits. Exercising, cutting out processed foods, and generally paying attention to your body are all good practices that help you stay healthy. Here are some examples of what you can do:
Anyone who has gone through a healthy diet knows that exercise is just as important as what you eat. Performing a simple daily exercise routine will go a long way in preventing obesity, keeping you energized, and improving your mental health. Furthermore, if you’re over 50, exercising will help keep your muscles and bones strong (20, 21).
The benefits of exercise are more relevant than ever due to the impact of sedentarism. Spending long hours sitting at a desk can negatively affect your health. However, a simple exercise routine, such as walking around every few hours, will prevent most side effects of sedentarism (22).
Avoid Eating Out
A common way to drop a diet is to give in to the temptation of eating away from home. Despite restaurants often advertising themselves as healthy, eating at home has an undeniable set of benefits that can help you keep a healthy body.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s good to remember that eating at home reduces your calorie intake by about 100 calories per day. Similarly, eating at home is linked to a higher intake of nutrients such as fiber (23, 24).
Meal prepping has become a popular way of dealing with the stress of cooking after a long day. By planning your meals, you’ll be able to remove the pressure of thinking about what to eat and when to cook it. Meal prepping also saves you extra money by buying things in bulk.
However, Recent research shows that meal prepping is also linked to a series of benefits for your health. For example, researchers suggest that planning your meals is closely tied to a lower risk of obesity. Also, meal prepping is linked to a more diverse diet, avoiding deficiencies in specific micronutrients (25).
Key Takeaways: Diets for Women Over 50
Although the Internet is filled with hundreds of different eating plans that promise a healthy body, it all comes down to your personal preference. Whether you’re looking for something that won’t restrict your meals or leans toward veganism, one diet will be perfect for you.
If you’re unsure about what eating plan is best for you, make sure to check with a doctor or licensed dietitian. A trained professional can give you precise instructions on what and what not to eat, considering your personal factors and conditions.