The Mediterranean Diet: Effective Only For The Rich?

10/3/2017 6:44:59 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

The Mediterranean diet seems to be effective only for the rich and well-educated, claims a recent study by a team of Italian scientists. 

After reviewing the diets, income and education level of nearly 19,000 men and women, the scientists observed that the Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of heart disease and stroke by at least 15 per cent. However, here is the startling finding: only those with a household income of £35,000 or higher enjoyed these benefits. Those with lower incomes did not experience such benefits despite following a similar eating plan — a finding that held up even when variables such as getting regular exercise and routine check-ups were controlled for.

Differences in variety and quality could be key causes of this disparity, say the researchers. For instance, the study found that wealthier participants consumed less meat and more fish, whole grains, and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables than their poorer counterparts. 

Quality, and not just quantity, mattered too. 

Marialaura Bonaccio, researcher at the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention and first author of the study, said: “Let’s give that two persons follow the same diet, that is equal amounts of vegetables, fruits, fish, olive oil, etc. every day,” Bonaccio said. “It might be that, beyond quantity, differences in quality may exist. For example, in olive oil.”

“A bottle of olive oil with a price tag of $2 has not the same nutritional properties as extra virgin olive oil costing $10. Given that it is logical to assume rich people are more likely to buy the nutrient expensive bottle compared with lower-income, our hypothesis is that differences in the price may yield differences in healthy components and future health outcomes,” Bonaccio said.

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