As you age, it’s important to find a way of eating that you not only love, but that can help you stay healthy with each passing year. But with the long list of diets that currently exist, finding the right one can sometimes be a challenge.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) may be one of the worst diets for healthy aging, but according to Rachel Dyckman, MS, RDN, CDN, one of the best diets after 50 is the Mediterranean diet.

“The Mediterranean diet has been consistently ranked as one of the best diets for overall health and longevity, and recent research suggests that the more closely older adults adhere to this diet, the longer they live,” says Dyckman.

Here’s why the Mediterranean diet is the best choice after 50, and for more healthy eating tips make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet takes inspiration from countries like Greece and Italy and first originated as a diet in America after researchers found that people from these regions had very few cases of heart disease.

“The Mediterranean diet isn’t a strict ‘diet’ per se, but rather a pattern of eating that consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds,” says Dyckman. “It also incorporates moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, dairy products, and eggs.”

According to Dyckman, one of the main differences between this and the SAD is that red meat is only consumed on rare occasions and they keep processed foods and refined carbs to a minimum.

mediterranean diet

One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet for those over 50 is that it promotes whole, unprocessed foods that are high in fiber.

“Fiber is extremely important for a healthy diet, especially as we age,” says Dyckman. “It helps us to maintain a healthy weight by keeping us full after eating, promotes bowel regularity and a healthy gut microbiome, lowers cholesterol, helps to protect against colon cancer, and promotes stable blood sugar.”

RELATED: 5 Major Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Fiber, Says Science

olives herbs and olive oil

Olive oil is a main component of the Mediterranean diet and is extremely beneficial to heart health as you age. According to Dyckman, olive oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, “which have been known to lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol).”

Olive oil also contains a special plant compound called polyphenols. According to Dyckman, “these have been known to combat free radical damage associated with aging and have the potential to slow the development of illnesses associated with aging such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.”

RELATED: One Major Effect of Eating Olive Oil, New Study Says

Mediterranean Lentil Salad recipe from Recipe Runner
Courtesy of Recipe Runner

“The Mediterranean diet has also been found to reduce the risk of obesity in post- and peri-menopausal women,” says Lindsey DeSoto, RDN, owner of The Dietitian Momma.

According to a study from The Journal of the North American Menopause Societyobesity during menopause can lead to moderate to severe health issues, so adhering to something like the Mediterranean diet can help alleviate these stresses during the menopausal process.

Mediterranean Salmon-Coucous Salad Recipe Runner
Courtesy of Recipe Runner

Like Dyckman said, this diet is not about strictly following a specific routine but is more about incorporating heart-healthy foods and limiting those that can lead to issues as you age.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to get started, take a look at this list of foods you can buy from the store or try one of these Mediterranean recipes at home.

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