Females over 50 may benefit from different diets such as the Mediterranean, flexitarian, DASH, and MIND. The best diet is the one that you can stick to long-term and that makes you feel your best.

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For females who are trying to gracefully transition into the later stages of life, the sheer number of diet options is dizzying — and not all of them are good for your health.

If you’re over 50, you might be looking for a diet that supports heart or brain function, helps control menopause symptoms, or boosts your overall health.

The diets in this article were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Easy to follow: Aside from offering clear guidelines and simple shopping lists, the diet doesn’t require supplements.
  • Adaptable: You can make changes according to your personal preferences and nutritional needs.
  • Not overly restrictive: You won’t need to eliminate large groups of foods from your eating plan.
  • Nutritionally balanced: You’ll eat plenty of healthy fats and protein, plus quality carb sources and micronutrients.
  • Evidence-based: Scientific studies back the diet’s health benefits.

[the terms “male” and “female”]

In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).

Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.

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The Mediterranean diet is consistently rated as one of the healthiest eating patterns for almost anyone, including females over 50.

Based on the eating patterns of people in Greece and Southern Italy in the 1960s, this diet is characterized by its low saturated fat content. It primarily comprises vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, and whole grains, and it features olive oil as the primary source of added fat.

Although it’s predominantly plant-based, it also includes moderate amounts of fish and dairy, as well as small quantities of eggs, poultry, and red meat.

Decades of research demonstrate that this diet reduces your risk of various chronic, age-related illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and mental decline.

This diet also outshines many other popular diets because of its flexibility. No foods or food groups are off-limits — even treats and red wine are allowed sparingly.

If you’re interested in trying it, read our guide, Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan and Beginner’s Guide, and check out “The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” by Serena Ball, RD, and Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for females over 50.

What’s more, rates of high blood pressure — a major risk factor for heart disease — increase significantly after the onset of menopause.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is designed to prevent and treat high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

It’s characterized by its low sodium content and emphasis on foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are known to help reduce blood pressure.

Sodium restrictions vary depending on your personal needs. While some people limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, others go as low as 1,500 mg. Both numbers align with the American Heart Association’s sodium recommendations.

The DASH diet mainly comprises vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy, followed by moderate amounts of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. Red meat and sweets are generally discouraged but allowed occasionally, and processed or cured meats are banned.

The diet also limits salty, ultra-processed foods in favor of nutrient-dense, whole foods that offer additional benefits, such as reduced cholesterol and improved blood sugar control.

To get started, read The Complete Beginner’s Guide to the DASH Diet and check out “DASH Diet for Two” by Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN.

The Flexitarian diet is a semi-vegetarian plan that’s predominantly plant-based but occasionally includes meat, eggs, dairy, and fish.

It’s a good diet option for anyone interested in boosting their intake of fiber and plant protein but also recognizes the nutritional value of animal products, wanting to eat them as needed.

Compared with the vegetarian or vegan diets, the flexitarian diet provides more iron and omega-3s from foods like red meat and fish. It also tends to be higher in calcium — an important nutrient for preserving bone health in postmenopausal females.

The eating pattern also offers additional benefits for body weight, heart health, and diabetes prevention.

To try it yourself, read The Flexitarian Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide and check out the Flexitarian cookbook “Mostly Plants” by Tracy, Dana, Lori, and Corky Pollan.

Age and sex are primary risk factors for dementia, the prevalence of which is significantly greater in females than males. In fact, roughly two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia — are females.

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet was developed to reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of age-related mental decline. Research suggests that it may help reduce dementia risk.

As the name implies, it combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that have been shown to support brain health.

It emphasizes foods like whole grains, berries, leafy greens, beans, olive oil, and fatty fish. Fried foods, red meat, butter, cheese, and sweets are discouraged.

To get started, read The MIND Diet: A Detailed Guide for Beginners and check out “The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook” by Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD.

If you’ve tried countless fad diets and are ready to ditch the dieting cycle for good, intuitive eating may be the perfect fit.

Chronic restrictive dieting can, in some cases, lead to a variety of adverse effects, including bone loss, rebound weight gain, disordered eating, and diminished quality of life.

Intuitive eating is an anti-diet program designed to reform your diet mentality and build a positive relationship with your body and food. According to a recent study, intuitive eating can help improve psychological health and reduce the chance of developing disordered eating.

In this diet, no foods are banned, and no rules regulate portion sizes or meal timing. Instead, the goal is to help you relearn how to listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness.

Additional research suggests that those who follow this plan may be more likely to maintain a healthy weight, though it’s worth noting that weight loss is not the goal.

If you’re interested in this approach, read The Rise of the Non-Diet: What to Know About Intuitive Eating and check out the official guidebook “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN.

When choosing between diets on this list, consider whether you can still get all the necessary nutrients, as well as any other personal needs you might have.

Females over 50 should pay special attention to their intake of specific nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and B vitamins. If you don’t think you’re getting adequate amounts of these nutrients, simple dietary adjustments or supplements may be warranted.

If your primary goal is to reduce your blood pressure, opt for the DASH diet. If you want to focus on self-care and a healthy relationship with food, try intuitive eating. If you’re simply aiming for a healthier, more balanced diet, the Mediterranean or Flexitarian diets may be best.

Remember, also, that you don’t have to make drastic changes to your diet. Small, incremental steps may still provide significant health benefits, even if you’re not following your chosen eating pattern perfectly.

Before making any major changes to your diet or adding any supplements to your routine, consult your healthcare provider to ensure it aligns with your needs.

What is the best way for a woman over 50 to lose weight?

There isn’t one way for females over age 50 to lose weight because each person’s body is different, and there may be different environmental and physical factors that affect how your body loses weight. That said, a 2021 study examined the effect of various diets on weight loss and other health markers in females after menopause. Its findings included:

  • For those who are overweight or living with obesity, a low glycemic diet may work better at reducing body fat mass than other diets.
  • Low-fat diets may cause greater improvement of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while low-carbohydrate diets could result in greater improvement of triglyceride and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • The Mediterranean diet may help lower blood pressure and the chance of heart disease.

What should a 55-year-old woman eat to lose weight?

To lose weight more effectively in your fifties, choose to eat more whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, legumes, fish, and poultry. Eating a higher-protein diet has also been shown to help with weight loss in people over age 50.

How many calories should a 50-year-old woman eat to lose weight?

According to the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines, a 50-year-old female needs roughly 1800 calories a day to maintain weight, but many factors influence this estimate including medications, activity level, genetics, and lean body mass, which is the weight of your body fat subtracted from your overall weight. To lose one pound per week, try cutting about 500 calories per day.

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation gives a more accurate estimate of caloric needs. That said, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor first for a better estimate of your personal caloric needs for weight loss.

If you’re a woman over 50, it’s often difficult to know which diet is best, especially as you’re experiencing physical changes associated with aging.

The Mediterranean, Flexitarian, DASH, and MIND diets, alongside intuitive eating, provide a variety of benefits for your heart, brain, and overall health.

Choosing the one that’s right for you requires thoughtful consideration of your personal goals and nutritional needs. The right choice is the diet that you can maintain long-term and keeps you feeling your best.