In recent years, the Mediterranean diet has been touted as a miracle diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer, but a recent study found that it can work only if you earn $46,200 or more per year and you are a college graduate.
The diet’s supporters have been advocating for a diet rich in olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and nuts for years, but more and more studies reveal that the quality of food is equally important.
Italian scientists studied the benefits of a Mediterranean diet on 18,000 participants over a four-year period. Researchers focused more on the improvements to the heart disease risk in people on the diet.
The team found that the diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 15%, but that benefit was only visible in participants that earned more than $46,000 per year. No significant health benefits were noticed in their peers earning less than that.
Study authors speculate that households with higher incomes are able to consume better quality food, which is lower in chemicals, and richer in nutrients and antioxidants.
Quality of Food Is Very Important
Researchers underlined that previous studies had found similar cardiovascular benefits in the general population, but it is the first time a study shows that income has a tremendous impact on the Mediterranean diet-associated health outcomes.
Dr Marialaura Bonaccio of the Pozzilli, Italy-based Neurological Mediterranean Institute (Neuromed) explained that lower-earners are unlikely to have the same benefits of persons from a high socioeconomic status even though both groups stick to the same diet.
Dr. Bonaccio and her colleagues concluded that the quality of food is just as important as frequency and quantity when it comes to the Mediterranean diet.