OBJECTIVE: To develop an index that assesses the degree of adherence to nutritional recommendations for older adults (Elderly Dietary Index [EDI]) and investigate its association with risk factors related to cardiovascular disease (CVD). METHODS: The EDI was constructed using 10 components (ie, questions about the consumption frequency of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, olive oil, and alcohol as well as the type of bread and dairy products) according to the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults and select features of the traditional Mediterranean diet. Scores from 1 to 4 were assigned to all components of the index. The EDI total score had a range between 10 and 40. As a validation procedure, a sample of 668 elderly individuals without known CVD (the MEDIS Study) was used to evaluate the associations between the proposed index and various health outcomes. RESULTS: The overall mean EDI score was 29.2+/-3.5. This score implies that study participants were 73% (ie, 29.2/40) adherent to the nutritional recommendations that the EDI evaluates. Regarding the conventional CVD risk factors, it was found that a 1 unit increase in the EDI score is associated with almost 10% lower odds of being obese or hypertensive or having at least one of the investigated CVD risk factors (P<0.001) after controlling for potential confounders. CONCLUSIONS: The suggested EDI may be a useful tool for public health policymakers and other health care professionals to assess diet quality and health status (especially concerning the risk for developing CVD) in older adults.