Best Diets for Women Over 50
Women's Health

Best Diets for Women Over 50

Best Diets for Women Over 50

Posted 5 days ago

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Menopause can make you feel like a stranger in your own body. 

The hormonal changes that accompany it can leave you feeling drained, foggy, and constantly sweaty. Not to mention, menopause can even change how your body stores fat — which can affect your heart health and change your body shape.

That means, for women over 50, the best time to tweak your diet to optimize your health is right now. While there’s no stopping menopause, we can do our best to keep our bodies healthy and strong through the process.

In this article, we’ll review some of the major health concerns and nutrient needs, best food choices, and best diets for women over 50.

Health Concerns for Women Over 50

At age 50, you may be approaching menopause (still having occasional periods) or in menopause (no periods for a year or more).[*]

Menopause represents a huge hormonal shift that can affect all aspects of your health. 

Here are some of the main changes that occur with menopause and some of the most common complaints of women in this age group.

Menopause Symptoms

Menopause brings with it a unique set of symptoms that can range from mildly annoying to seriously disruptive.

Many women complain of fatigue, mood changes, and hot flashes. Other symptoms may include hair loss, dry skin, and insomnia.[*]

Body Composition

The hormonal changes of menopause, along with the natural aging process, also bring about changes to your fat and muscle mass and the way your body carries fat.

With lower estrogen production (which eventually stops completely), women in various stages of menopause become more predisposed to store abdominal fat. Abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, is the fat that surrounds your organs and carries a higher risk of heart disease.[*]

At the same time, aging can result in muscle loss as it becomes more difficult for the body to build muscle and easier for muscle tissue to break down. This can result in significant shifts in muscle and fat mass, as well as body shape.[*]

However, there are many eating patterns that can help with reducing or preventing fat accumulation, and resistance exercise (like weightlifting) can help to preserve and build muscle mass.[*]

Bone Density

Finally, bone density is a key concern for women over 50. Women are at higher risk than men of developing osteoporosis, which is a disease characterized by low bone mineral density. It increases your risk of bone fracture and decreases the strength of your bones.[*

Estrogen helps protect bone health, so the lower estrogen levels associated with menopause can put you at an increased risk of osteoporosis. It’s important to protect your bones using proper nutrition and bone-strengthening exercises. Maintaining muscle mass and a healthy weight can also help prevent weak bones.[*]

Key Nutrients for Women Over 50

While we all need all essential nutrients in the right amounts for proper health, there are some are more of a concern for women over 50. In particular, these vitamins and minerals are helpful for bone health. However, there hasn’t been a lot of research on vitamins and minerals for menopause symptoms or fat and muscle mass changes.[*]

Here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals to prioritize if you’re a perimenopausal woman:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A

The best way to get most of these vitamins is to eat a rich, varied, whole food based diet. However, vitamin D is a special case. Your body can synthesize vitamin D, but it requires sun exposure.[*]

However, supplementing with these nutrients is also an excellent idea, regardless of your diet. Be sure to check out our recommendations for the best multivitamins for women over 50. 

Top 5 Foods for Women Over 50

Regardless of diet, here are some of the most nutrient-dense foods for women over 50. They provide many of the nutrients listed above, plus many other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

1. 100% Grass Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Beef is rich in protein, healthy fat, and a great source of many nutrients. Additionally, grass-fed beef is higher in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fat than conventionally raised beef.[*]

2. Wild Caught Salmon

Likewise, salmon is a natural source of omega-3 fats. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals and loaded with filling, muscle-building protein.[*]

Choosing wild caught fish also helps ensure that your salmon contains fewer contaminants than farmed salmon.[*]

3. Pastured Eggs

Eggs are an ideal, inexpensive protein source. The yolk is also full of nutrients and healthy fats. Egg yolks are a particularly good source of choline, which is essential for metabolism, cellular health, and brain function.[*]

Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are also richer in vitamin D than conventionally farmed eggs.[*]

4. Avocado

Avocados are a unique, high-fat vegetable full of omega-9 fat — the same healthy type found in olive oil. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals, like potassium and vitamin C.[*]

For cooking, avocado oil is an excellent option and a much better choice than highly processed seed oils like soybean or corn oil.

5. Bone Broth

Finally, bone broth is an excellent food for women over 50 to enjoy as a regular part of their diet. Bone broth is made by slow-cooking animal bones (usually beef or chicken), which allows them to release collagen and nutrients. Bone broth is incredibly nutrient-dense, and the collagen it supplies may promote healthier skin, joints, and muscles.[*][*]

Top 5 Diets for Women Over 50

And here it is: the five best diet plans for women over 50. These diets focus on real, whole, natural foods while minimizing added sugars and highly processed ingredients.

Best Overall: Paleo

Paleo is an eating pattern based on what our ancestors likely ate. It places a high priority on ingredient quality, so on Paleo, you should choose high-quality meats and organic ingredients to the extent you’re able to.

You should also avoid gluten, grains, soy, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and processed ingredients. 

For women over 50, Paleo provides the right balance of healthy fat, healthy carbs, and protein to help regulate appetite and blood sugar levels. It may also promote heart health. It’s flexible enough to work for an entire household, and  can be tweaked in many ways for certain health goals (for example, Low Carb Paleo or Paleo/Keto).[*][*]

Best for Weight Loss: Keto

Keto is likely the best weight loss diet for women over 50. It is a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein eating plan that promotes ketosis, a metabolic state where you burn fat for energy instead of carbs.[*]

The potential benefits of Keto and ketosis for weight loss are numerous:

  • Reduced appetite, fewer cravings, and more filling meals[*]
  • Easier fat loss thanks to reduced insulin levels[*]
  • Muscle mass maintenance during weight loss[*]

Although Keto can be challenging, it’s one of the most effective weight loss diets. It makes cutting calories much easier by keeping you full with fat and protein.

Best for Digestive Health: Whole30

Whole30 is a stricter version of Paleo designed to be followed for 30 days only. For many, it’s a great way to try an elimination diet to help assess food intolerances.

For 30 days, you must eat only whole, natural foods, and avoid all grains, gluten, alcohol, added sugar, processed ingredients, dairy, legumes, soy, and healthy versions of processed foods (like Paleo pancakes or chips).[*]

The program is a challenge, but it may help you identify foods causing digestive or autoimmune symptoms. There hasn’t been much research on the Whole30, but many people who have completed it report that their health has drastically improved as a result.

Best for Heart Health: Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is based on foods traditionally eaten in Mediterranean (countries like Greece, France, Spain, and Italy), where rates of heart disease were much lower than in other parts of the world back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This was a period of intense scientific investigation into heart disease, and the Mediterranean diet has persisted as a good option for heart health.[*]

The diet highlights lean proteins, fish and shellfish, a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains (such as rice, quinoa, and oats), legumes, nuts and seeds, and — finally — olive oil as the fat of choice.

The Mediterranean Diet also offers more flexibility in the amount and type of carbs in your diet, which may be helpful if you’re highly active or if you don’t think you’d do well with a carb restriction.

Best for Blood Sugar Control: Low Carb

Finally, a Low Carb diet may be ideal for blood sugar control. Low Carb diets restrict carb content, but not to the extent that Keto does. A Low Carb diet may include up to 130 grams of carbs per day, or less than 26% of calories from carbs.[*]

While it won’t get you into ketosis, eating Low Carb  may help regulate blood sugar levels. You may also see some weight loss benefits from it.[*][*][*]

If the other diets on this list seem too extreme or restrictive for you right now, then Low Carb may be a great option.

Top 5 Tips to Select the Best Diet for You

So, how do you choose the best diet for you personally? Here are five questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are my health goals? Your goals can help direct you to the best diet. If you want to lose weight, consider Keto. If you’re experiencing some digestive issues and want to see if diet is contributing, jumping into the Whole30 may be worthwhile for you.
  2. Will this diet allow me to eat my favorite foods? The eating pattern you choose should allow you some room to eat your favorite foods, or at least healthier versions of your favorite foods. For instance, if hummus is your absolute favorite food, then Paleo (which excludes legumes) may not be the best fit, but the Mediterranean Diet would suit you perfectly.
  3. Will this fit my lifestyle? Some eating patterns are going to naturally require more of your time in the kitchen because there aren’t a lot of readily available convenience foods or dining-out options. These include Paleo and Whole30. If you’re not sure you’d have time to dedicate to more cooking, Low Carb, the Mediterranean Diet, and Keto may work a little better for you.
  4. Will this fit my budget? Likewise, Paleo and Whole30 may be more expensive than other diets. If your budget is tight, sticking to one of the other diet options may be a better fit for you at the moment.
  5. Could I stick with this diet for a long time? This is the most important question of all. Can you see yourself eating this way long into the future? If not, it may not be the best diet for you.

Carb Manager provides tools and resources to help you be successful, no matter which of these eating patterns is right for you. With our meal planning tools, recipes, and tracking options, we’re here to support you in staying healthy, getting lean, and keeping those bones and muscles strong well into the future.