It is the miracle diet which helps people live past their 100th birthday, while cutting the risk of cancer and heart disease.
But the Mediterranean diet of vegetables, fish and olive oil only really works if you are rich and well-educated, it has been claimed.
This is the finding of an Italian study of nearly 19,000 people, who all ate the Mediterranean diet and were monitored for their risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
The Mediterranean diet of vegetables, fish and olive oil only really works if you are rich and well-educated, it has been claimed
The diet only helped the better off, who are thought to benefit from eating organic, buying different types of vegetables and cooking them healthily, by boiling and stewing rather than roasting and grilling them.
People who did not go to university, and earned less than approximately £35,700 a year, saw no reduction in their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lead author Dr Marialaura Bonaccio, from the University of Insubria in Italy, said: ‘The cardiovascular benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet in a general population are well known.
‘Yet for the first time our study has revealed that the socioeconomic position is able to modulate the health advantages linked to Mediterranean diet.
‘In other words, a person from low socioeconomic status who struggles to follow a Mediterranean model, is unlikely to get the same advantages of a person with higher income, despite the fact that they both similarly adhere to the same healthy diet.’
People with a high income who commit to a Mediterranean diet can slash their risk of cardiovascular disease by 61 per cent, the researchers found. This is based on a two-point increase in the score for eating Mediterranean-style foods in a questionnaire.
The same effect was not seen for people earning less than 40,000 euros