Is the Mediterranean Diet Good for Seniors?

Elderly couple cooking in a kitchen

Key Points

  • Learn what the Mediterranean diet is and how it has health benefits for seniors.

  • Explore foods and meal plans of the Mediterranean diet for seniors.

  • Cardiologists recommend the Mediterranean diet.

  • Learn common myths and the related facts about the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet originated in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sicily. It focuses on eating healthy fats and plant-based protein. This diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while fish and poultry consumption is more moderate. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet for seniors benefits the heart, prevents diabetes, and lowers blood sugar. Eat less red meat, refined sugars, and dairy in small amounts to fuel a longer, more active life.

The Mediterranean diet for seniors isn't complicated. Focus on eating fresh ingredients and limit fried processed foods and sugar. Combat health abnormalities and eat food that encompasses the whole Mediterranean diet for each meal. Read on to understand how the Mediterranean diet assists with healthy living and anti-aging.

The Mediterranean Diet Benefits Senior Health

The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh foods like fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants and vitamins that fight illness and cancer. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein to fuel the body. Whole grain fiber-enriched foods and healthy fats found in olive oil provide energy for body cells.

The Mediterranean diet benefits senior health in a multitude of ways.

Have a Healthy Heart

Saturated fats from red meat aren't a part of the Mediterranean diet. The diet focuses on healthy unsaturated fats like beans and nuts. Unsaturated fats reduce cholesterol levels because the liver converts unsaturated fats into ketone bodies that source energy when glucose is not available.

Walnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, and almonds contain nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds found in plant-based foods and have antioxidants that combat illness.

Legumes like beans and edamame have potassium, magnesium, and iron. Potassium reduces blood pressure and regulates heartbeat. Magnesium supports muscle and nerve health. Iron in the body produces hemoglobin – a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Iron also produces a protein called myoglobin which provides oxygen to muscles.

Maintain Body Weight

Following the Mediterranean diet supports your ability to maintain a healthy body weight. When you eat more vegetable-based dishes and healthy fats, you’ll be full without feeling like you overate.

Vegetables contain fiber that supports the gut by allowing the good bacteria to thrive. A healthy gut allows you to better metabolize your food.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t see results if you eat high-calorie foods while only eating a few Mediterranean-based foods. Be consistent by embracing all parts of the Mediterranean diet. Incorporate vegetables and fruits for snacks and desserts.

Once you add more nutritious foods to your meals, you won't crave unhealthy foods filled with fats and sugars.

Boost Your Mood

The glycemic index involves the measurement of blood glucose levels after consuming carbohydrates.

Eating too many carbohydrates causes a sudden spike in insulin levels, which then causes you to crash and feel moody. You get a temporary high from eating something sugary, but the energy you feel doesn't last long.

Eating foods high in fat and sugar leads to disease and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your body don't process insulin. Your muscles, fat, and liver don't use glucose from your body for energy, so you feel sluggish and tired.

Foods in the Mediterranean diet aren’t high in sugar, so they support healthy insulin production and keep your energy even and sustained.

Vegetables and fruits, which make up a large portion of the diet, have anti-inflammatory properties. When you eat fruits and vegetables, your immunity improves. Your health and mood are better.

Enrich Your Mind

Mental cognition improves when you eat a Mediterranean diet because of the anti-inflammatory benefits of the foods. Inflammation leads to all sorts of diseases later in life, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.  

Prevent cognitive decline and slow the aging process by eating a Mediterranean diet. Add leafy greens, lean protein, and dairy products to your everyday diet. Make small adjustments to your eating habits every day until you have adopted your new, healthier way of life.

Mediterranean Food Examples

You know now that the Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Each group has unique health benefits that work together to cultivate balanced meals.

Learn which foods to choose to get on the path to better health and greater energy. Then, get inspired to cook by checking out these anti-aging Mediterranean diet recipes.


Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that help your heart to function. Omega-3 fatty acids aid hormones in regulating blood clotting, contracting and relaxing artery walls, and assisting in inflammation. They also reduce the number of triglycerides, a fat found in your blood, and slow down the production of plaque from building up in your system.

There are many fish to choose from on the diet: salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. Grill salmon for dinner and add lemon juice or seasonings on top of the fish for more flavor. Complete the meal by serving steamed vegetables on the plate like sliced squash, broccoli, and carrots.

Need a quick, healthy lunch? Chop canned tuna into a bowl and mix in chopped celery and onion. Don't forget mayonnaise to give the tuna zest. Spread the tuna on crackers, or make it into a sandwich with two slices of whole grain wheat bread.

Check out The Mediterranean Dish for some delicious seafood and fish recipes just perfect for your next meal.

Brown Rice

The Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat more whole wheat grains. Whole wheat grains have fiber, vitamins, and minerals that benefit your health and control your weight and cholesterol levels.

Whole wheat grains contain vitamins A, B, and E. Vitamin A supports your immunity to fight against diseases and protects your vision. Vitamin B boosts metabolism and maintains healthy skin cells. As an essential mineral, vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects skin cells from damage by free radicals.

To add more of these powerhouse vitamins to your diet, eat brown rice as a main course or a side. Brown rice tastes delicious on its own, but add some tofu or an egg to the bowl for a protein-filled boost. Dress up the dish with vegetables or a side of fruit. A perfect Mediterranean feast!


The Mediterranean diet allows for dairy in moderation. Dairy builds strong bones due to the calcium and potassium in food products. Calcium works with minerals in the body to form crystals that strengthen bones and teeth. Potassium regulates your heartbeat and appropriates the function of muscles and nerves.

Try unprocessed cheeses like ricotta, feta, and Brie as a snack. If cheese isn’t your thing, try yogurt instead. Create a parfait with plain Greek yogurt, mixing in blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Add granola to the bowl for extra fiber.

Olive Oil

Using high-fat saturated oils to cook leads to heart disease and high cholesterol. Lower your cholesterol by using olive oil to cook your favorite foods. Olive oil is a healthy, monounsaturated fat used for cooking.

Polyphenols and oleic acid are the active ingredients in olive oil. Polyphenols are plant metabolites found in plants, fruits, and seeds. These metabolic compounds improve blood sugar levels and brain function. Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid found in animal and plant products and is used to prevent heart disease and cancer.

Substitute olive oil instead of using lard, butter, or saturated fats to cook. Saute salmon or mackerel in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Dress a bountiful salad filled with mixed greens, tomatoes, and chickpeas with some olive oil and lemon juice. Dip pieces of bread into olive oil instead of slathering it with butter.  


Good news, wine lovers! Wine is fine to drink in moderation when following the Mediterranean diet.

Drink red wine to regulate blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and improve mood function. Red wine has health benefits linked to anti-aging and longevity. Red wine contains antioxidants that clear away damaged free radicals that harm skin cells. Polyphenols with antioxidant properties in red wine contain resveratrol. Resveratrol prevents infections and skin damage.

Surprise your significant other and plan a healthy and romantic date night. Make a grilled chicken dish with fresh black and pinto beans as a side. Add lemon juice to the chicken to give it some tangy flavor. Enjoy a glass of red wine over your romantic meal.

You’ll feel satisfied – not stuffed – and ready for romance.

Cardiologists Recommend the Mediterranean Diet

Studies show that over 1.5 million adults who followed the Mediterranean diet showed signs of better cardiovascular health. New York-based cardiologist Dr. Hooman Yaghoobzadeh said the Mediterranean diet has long-term health benefits. Though it's technically a diet, Dr. Yaghoobzadeh says the Mediterranean diet should be considered a lifestyle:

"Diets are usually something that you do that is short-lived, or very specific, and you can't stay on them for long. The Mediterranean diet isn't a 30-day fast or a 10-day no-carb diet, and you don't need to bring a salad in a brown bag if you go out to a restaurant. It's a healthy way of living that you can stick to for the rest of your life."

Dr. Yaghoobzadeh claims the Mediterranean diet is essential for living due to the high fiber content the foods have, perfect for healthy gut digestion:

"In fact, hundreds of millions of people already eat this way. One of the main benefits comes from the increase in fiber which is the food (prebiotic) for the healthy bacteria in your gut (probiotic). Fiber also enhances and leads to healthy nutrients for the gut lining."

Myths About the Mediterranean Diet

It’s possible to follow the Mediterranean diet and still eat foods that you like. You don't have to follow strict guidelines or menu plans. Simply incorporate the proper foods and ingredients into your diet. 

Like any popular diet, there are some misconceptions about what it is or isn’t. Here are some of the myths and the facts:

Myth 1: The Mediterranean Diet Is High in Fat

Of course, too much of one food group is never good. The Mediterranean diet isn't high in fat and focuses on lean protein and unsaturated fats.

The Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat an assortment of beans, nuts, and lean protein. Garbanzo beans are great as a side or eaten on their own. Packaged varieties of peanuts, almonds, and pistachios are another tasty treat.

Myth 2: The Mediterranean Diet Is All About Pizza and Pasta

Pizza and pasta are delicious, but eat them in moderation. These are high in carbohydrates, sodium, sugar, and calories.

Though countries like Sicily and Italy love their pizza and pasta dishes, the Mediterranean diet focuses instead on high protein and fibrous foods like fruits, vegetables, and lentils. Whole-grain options for pizza and pasta are healthier, and vegetable-based pizza and pasta meals are popular with vegetarians and vegans.

Myth 3: The Mediterranean Diet Is Hard To Follow

No matter what diet you choose, your heart, mind, and body depend on proper nutrition. The Mediterranean is one of the easier diets to follow because it incorporates regular foods you can easily find in any grocery store­­ – no fancy health food store required.

Do you prefer meat? Eat grilled, smoked, or steamed fish meal varieties. Are you a vegetarian? Eat plentiful fruits and vegetables with plant-based proteins like tofu and seitan. Replace fried and high-sodium foods with unprocessed, healthy foods that are abundant and easy to find.

Follow the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is healthy and supports anti-aging in elderly adults. Following this plan slows down the process of aging by incorporating foods rich in protein and fiber. These types of food support physical and cognitive health as you age.

Try the Mediterranean diet by swapping out a few foods at a time. Eat the foods you like and follow recipes that appease your tastes and budget. You’re not committing to a diet; you’re committing to a lifetime of good health and well-being.

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