What Diet Is Best for Seniors?

What Diet Is Best for Seniors

While there is no one diet plan that works for everyone, the best diet for seniors is one that is low-calorie, high-protein, easy to digest, heart-healthy, and sustainable

As you age, your metabolism slows down and you may start to lose bone density and muscle mass. While there is no one diet plan that works for everyone, the best diet for seniors is one that is:

  • Low-calorie
  • High-protein
  • Well-balanced
  • Easy to digest
  • Heart-healthy
  • Sustainable
  • Helps improve bone density
  • Helps maintain muscle mass

3 of the best diets for seniors

In general, the best diet for older adults is one that is good for weight control and controlling conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. These include the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, and MIND diet.

1. DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension)

  • Increased intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • Limited intake of foods high in saturated fats, cholesterol, and trans fats
  • Limited intake sodium, sugar, and red meat
  • Helps control high blood pressure

2. Mediterranean diet

  • High consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables
  • Moderate consumption of fish, dairy products (cheese and yogurt), and wine
  • Low consumption of non-seafood meat products
  • Decreases the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease

3. MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for the neurodegenerative delay)

  • Combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets
  • Focuses on foods that can support brain health to lower the risk of mental decline
  • Increased intake of minimally processed plant-based foods
  • Limited intake of animal-based foods that are high in saturated fats and foods with added sugars

How do nutritional needs change as you get older?

Good nutrition is vital at any age, and it is important to eat a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

However, your calorie requirements and overall needs change as you get older and are more prone to developing certain age-related conditions. For example, guidelines for recommended daily calorie intake for younger vs. older people are as follows, although this may vary according to your level of physical activity:

  • Young women: 1800 to 2200 calories
  • Older women: 1600 to 2200 calories
  • Young men: 2200 to 3200 calories
  • Older men: 2000 to 2800 calories

What are the most common health issues in seniors?

With age comes more risk of obstacles to healthy eating, including:

Common age-related health problems may include:

Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about the best diet plan for you according to your individual needs, overall health, and preferences.


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Medically Reviewed on 4/19/2022


Image Source: iStock Images

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Healthy Eating for Older Adults. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/healthy-eating-for-older-adults

National Council on Aging. Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors. https://www.ncoa.org/article/healthy-eating-tips-for-seniors

Medline Plus. Nutrition for Older Adults. https://medlineplus.gov/nutritionforolderadults.html