For women trying to transition gracefully into the later stages of life, the number of nutritional options is staggering, and not all of them are healthy.
Many women over 50 look to diets to support heart or brain function, control menopause symptoms, or improve their overall health.
The diets presented in this article were selected based on the following criteria:
– Easy to follow. In addition to providing clear guidelines and easy shopping lists, the diet requires no supplements.
– Customizable. You can make changes based on your personal preferences and dietary needs.
– Not too restrictive. You don’t have to eliminate large food groups from your eating plan.
– Nutritionally balanced. You will be consuming plenty of healthy fats and proteins, as well as quality sources of carbohydrates and micronutrients.
– Evidence-based. Scientific studies confirm the health benefits of nutrition.
Here are 5 of the best diets for women over 50.
1. The best diet ever: the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest eating habits for almost everyone, including women over 50. Based on the eating habits of people in Greece and southern Italy in the 1960s, this diet is characterized by being low in saturated fat. It consists mostly of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and whole grains, and olive oil is the main source of added fat.
Although the Mediterranean diet is mostly plant-based, it also includes moderate amounts of fish and dairy products, and small amounts of eggs, poultry, and red meat. Decades of research shows that this diet reduces the risk of various chronic diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and mental decline. One study also linked the Mediterranean diet to a 30% reduction in the risk of obesity in peri- and postmenopausal women. The Mediterranean Diet outperforms many other popular diets because of its flexibility. No food or food group is taboo, even sweets and red wine are allowed in moderation.
2. Best for Heart Health: The DASH Diet
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for women over 50. In addition, high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, increases significantly after the onset of menopause. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is used to prevent and treat high blood pressure. It is notable for its low sodium content and emphasis on foods high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are known for their blood pressure-lowering effects.
Sodium restrictions vary based on your personal needs. While some people limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, others go as high as 1,500 mg.
The DASH diet consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, followed by moderate amounts of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. Red meat and sweets are generally discouraged but are occasionally allowed, and processed or salted meats are prohibited. Restricting salty and highly processed foods in favor of whole, nutrient-dense foods offers additional benefits, such as: B. lower cholesterol and better blood sugar control.
3. The best plant-based diet: the flexitarian diet
The flexitarian diet is a plant-based, semi-vegetarian diet that occasionally includes meat, eggs, dairy, and fish. This diet is currently the most popular among women who are reducing their meat consumption for health, animal welfare or environmental reasons.
The flexitarian diet is a great option for anyone looking to increase their fiber and plant-based protein intake, while recognizing the nutritional value of animal products and consuming them as needed. An Australian longitudinal study of women’s health suggests that strict vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of not getting enough of nutrients important to women’s health, such as iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
Compared to these strict diets, the flexitarian diet provides more iron and omega-3 fatty acids from foods like red meat and fish. It also tends to be higher in calcium, an important nutrient for maintaining bone health in postmenopausal women. Early research suggests that this eating pattern has additional benefits for body weight, heart health, and diabetes prevention.
4. Best for Brain Health: The MIND Diet
Age and gender are the main risk factors for dementia, the prevalence of which is significantly higher in women than in men. In fact, about two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, are women. The MIND diet was designed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of age-related mental decline.
MIND is the abbreviation for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay”. As the name suggests, it combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which have been shown to support brain health. It emphasizes foods like whole grains, berries, green leafy vegetables, beans, olive oil, and oily fish. Fried foods, red meat, butter, cheese and sweets are not recommended.
Several studies have shown that the MIND diet reduces the risk of dementia. While people who follow the diet closely are at the lowest risk, even those who adhere moderately may experience slower mental decline.
5. Best for Women Tired of Dieting: Intuitive Eating
If you’ve tried countless fad diets and are ready to give up the diet cycle forever, intuitive eating could be the perfect solution.
Chronically restrictive diets can cause a variety of side effects, including bone loss, weight gain, eating disorders, and reduced quality of life. Intuitive Eating is an anti-dieting program designed to reform your diet mindset and create a positive relationship with your body and the foods you eat. It was developed by nutritionists who claim that chronic dieting causes physical and mental damage.
Intuitive Eating includes 10 core principles based on concepts such as making peace with food, respecting your health, and managing your emotions without having to resort to food. No food is forbidden, and there are no rules on portion sizes or meal times. Rather, the goal is to help you relearn how to listen to your body’s natural signals of hunger and satiety so that you no longer depend on a specific diet for mental or physical nourishment.
A recent study linked intuitive eating to improved mental health and a reduced risk of eating disorders. Other research suggests that people who follow this diet are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, although it should be noted that weight loss is not the intended goal.
How to choose the best diet for women over 50?
If you are a woman over 50, the best diet is one that you can follow long-term. It may not look like your friend’s, sister’s or neighbor’s best diet. Your diet should include foods that you enjoy, that help you feel good, and that provide you with all the nutrients your body needs.
Consider your personal needs when choosing between the diets on this list.
If your main goal is to lower your blood pressure, go for the DASH diet. Do you want to focus on self-care and a healthy relationship with food? Try intuitive eating. If you’re simply looking for a healthier, more balanced diet, the Mediterranean or flexitarian diet may be best.
You may find that the above diets overlap significantly. Each emphasizes foods that are nutrient dense, minimally processed, and high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, lean protein, and antioxidants – all key factors in any diet you’re considering.
Women over 50 should pay close attention to their intake of certain nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, protein and B vitamins. If you feel you are not getting enough of these nutrients, simple diet adjustments or supplements may be warranted.
Remember, you don’t have to drastically change your diet. Small, incremental steps can have significant health benefits, even if you don’t follow your eating habits perfectly. Before making any major changes to your diet or adding any supplements to your routine, check with your doctor to make sure they meet your needs.
The Mediterranean, Flexitarian, DASH, MIND and Intuitive Eating diets have many benefits for your heart, brain and overall health.
To choose the best one for you, you need to consider your personal goals and dietary needs. The right choice is the diet that you can follow long-term and that you feel comfortable with.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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