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What are the 5 Best Diets for Women in their 50s?

Women who want to age gracefully and want to change their diets to meet their nutrition requirements, as they are aging have many options today, so much so that it can become very confusing for these ladies which diet to opt for. Not all the diets in the market that claim to be beneficial as one ages are good.

Women who are in their 50s need diets that support their heart, brain and bone function and also to manage their menopause symptoms along with improving their general health.

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In this article, we will discuss some of the best diets for women over 50 that were chosen based on the following factors for your ease:

Diets that are easily adaptable: These diets can be modified according to your nutritional needs and personal preferences.

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Diets that are easy to follow: These diets are simple and can be made with ease and do not need any form of supplements.

Diets that are not too restrictive: In these diets, there is no need to eliminate large food groups from daily diet and they are flexible.

Diets that are nutritionally balanced: These diets contain everything from all the food groups and contain lot of protein, healthy fats and quality carbs and micronutrients.

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Evidence-based diets: All these diets are proven to be beneficial for women in their 50s by scientific studies.

What are the 5 Best Diets for Women in Their 50s?

  1. The Mediterranean Diet: The All-Rounder Diet

    This diet has been rated consistently as one of the healthiest diet for anyone from any age group and especially for women over 50. The Mediterranean Diet was founded on the eating patterns of people in Southern Italy and Greece in the 1960s and is characterized by low saturated fat and mainly consists of whole grains, vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes and its primary source of added fat is olive oil.(1)

    The Mediterranean diet is mainly considered as plant-based; however, it also contains some amounts of dairy and fish along with small quantities of red meat, poultry and eggs.

    A study has also shown that following Mediterranean diet has a 30% decreased risk of obesity in peri- and postmenopausal women.(2)

    Decades of studies have shown that this diet is beneficial in reducing the risk of different age-related and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, mental/cognitive decline and cancer.(3)

    Thanks to its flexibility, The Mediterranean diet tops various other popular diets, as there are no food groups or foods that are off-limits and even red wine and other treats can be taken in small amounts on special occasions.

  2. The Flexitarian Diet: The Awesome Plant-Based Diet

    This diet consists of semi-vegetarian foods, which are mostly plant-based; however, it does contain dairy, eggs, meat and fish on occasions.(4) The Flexitarian diet is very popular amongst women who are trying to cut down on their meat intake to better their health and for environmental reasons or for animal welfare.(4) The Flexitarian diet is excellent for those who want to increase their fiber intake and plant protein and those who want to consume animal products for the sake of its nutritional value as needed.

    Compared with strict vegetarian diets, which leads to decreased intake of certain nutrients, such as iron and omega 3 fatty acids; the Flexitarian diet gives more omega-3s and iron from foods like fish and red meat.(5) This diet is also high in calcium which is a vital nutrient for bone health preservation, especially in postmenopausal women.(4) This kind of diet gives additional benefits for heart health, body weight and diabetes prevention.(4)

  3. The DASH Diet: Excellent for Heart Health

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one of the main causes of death for females in their 50s is heart disease.(6) Women after going through menopause are at significantly increased risk for hypertension, which is a big risk factor for heart disease.(7) DASH diet or The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, is developed to prevent and treat hypertension or high blood pressure.(8)

    The DASH diet is made of foods with low sodium content and emphasizes on foods that are high in calcium, magnesium and potassium, which help in reducing blood pressure. The restrictions on sodium depend on a person’s personal needs. Some individuals restrict their sodium intake to 2,300 mg in a day, whereas some chose to cut down to 1,500 mg in a day. Both these quantities of sodium are consistent with sodium recommendations from the American Heart Association.(7, 8)

    The DASH diet primarily is made of fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy, moderate quantities of seeds, whole grains, nuts, legumes, poultry and fish. Sweets and red meat are commonly not allowed, but can be taken occasionally. The DASH diet is completely devoid of cured or processed meats.

    When there is restriction of ultra-processed and salty foods and higher intake of whole foods that are nutrient-dense, then along with decreased blood pressure, this diet it also gives other additional benefits, such as better control of blood sugar and reduced cholesterol.(7)

  4. The MIND Diet: Beneficial for Brain Health

    MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” and as the name suggests, it has a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets both of which are beneficial for brain health.

    Gender and age are the main risk factors for dementia, which is significantly seen more in women than men. About two-thirds of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are women.(9) The MIND diet was created to decrease the risk of age-related mental decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

    The MIND diet focuses on foods like leafy greens, whole grains, beans, berries, fatty fish and olive oil. Red meat, fried foods, sweets, cheese and butter are not recommended in this diet. There are many studies that have proven that the MIND diet cuts down the risk of dementia. Individuals who follow this diet religiously will have greatly reduced risk for mental and cognitive decline. However, people who even moderately follow The MIND diet will also experience a decreased rate of cognitive and mental decline.(10, 11, 12)

  5. Intuitive Eating: Great for Women Who Hate Dieting

    There are many women who simply hate following any type of diet and some who have tried countless diets and are just fed up of them and do not want to follow any type of diet. For such women, intuitive eating can be the right fit for them.

    Long term restrictive dieting can cause various adverse effects, such as disordered eating, rebound weight gain, bone loss and reduced quality of life.(13, 14)

    Intuitive eating is nothing, but an anti-diet program which is made such to change and improve diet mentality and construct a positive relationship with the foods you eat and your body. Dietitians created the Intuitive Eating; and according to them, chronic dieting not only causes physical harm, but also psychological harm.

    There are 10 foundational principles of Intuitive Eating that are based on certain concepts, such as honoring your health, making peace with food and managing and dealing with your emotions without the aid of food.

    A latest study showed an association between intuitive eating and improved psychological/mental health and a decreased risk of disordered eating.(15)

    There is no restriction of any foods or food groups in this diet and there are no limitations to portion sizes or timing of the meals. Rather, the aim of Intuitive Eating is to re-learn and listen to the natural hunger of the body and fullness cues so as to avoid the dependence on any particular diet to provide that nourishment and satiation physically or mentally.

    Even though weight loss is not the goal of intuitive eating, research tells that people who follow this kind of diet are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.(16, 17)

How to Go About Selecting Best Diet for Women in Their 50s?

The best diet is the one which can be easily maintained for the long term for anyone and especially for women over the age of 50. It is also important to remember that the best diet will differ from person to person and there is not a single best diet which is suitable for all. The diet that you consume should have foods which you enjoy eating and provide sufficient nutrition and help you feel your best at any point of your life. Personal needs should be considered when deciding on any diet present on this list.

The Flexitarian or Mediterranean diets are beneficial for women who just want a balanced and healthier diet.

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DASH diet is best for those women whose main goal is to decrease and maintain blood pressure.

For women who want to focus on a healthy relationship with food and self-care, intuitive eating is more suitable for them.

As one can observe, there is a significant overlapping in the diets mentioned above. Each diet stresses importance on nutrients and minimally processed foods which are full of minerals, vitamins, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and lean protein; all of which are important factors and foundation of any diet which you’re choosing.

One doesn’t have to make drastic change in their diet to gain benefits. Small, incremental changes are enough to give substantial health benefits, even if the chosen diet and pattern of eating is not being followed perfectly.

Women in their 50s should focus on foods with specific nutrients, such as B vitamins, protein, calcium and vitamin D. When not getting these nutrients in adequate amount, then minor adjustments in the diet or supplements can be required.(18, 19)

It is better to consult your healthcare provider before starting on any type of diet so that he/she can guide you towards a diet which aligns with your health needs.

Conclusion

It is always difficult to know which diet is best; especially when you are a woman over the age of 50 and are also experiencing physical changes of aging, such as menopause. All these diets, that is, The Flexitarian, Mediterranean, MIND and DASH diets; and not to forget intuitive eating, give an array of benefits for your health, especially the brain and heart health. It is important to choose the diet which is suitable to your needs and personal goals. The right diet and the best diet is the one which can be maintained and followed for the long term and makes you happy and feeling your best always.

References:

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