Only rich and educated people reduce their risk of heart disease by adopting a Mediterranean diet, researchers claim.
Surprising results from the Italian study suggest that eating a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and fish while cutting down on red meat offers no benefit to the less advantaged.
This was true even when both groups, rich and less well off, showed comparable adherence to the diet. This study suggests that the Mediterranean diet may be less effective in reducing heart disease in less well-off people.
Detailed analysis indicated that people at the top of society were likely to consume healthier versions of the Mediterranean diet richer in antioxidants and polyphenol plant compounds. They also had access to a greater range of fruits and vegetables.
Dr Tim Chico, reader in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said: "This study confirms a well-known but depressing fact; people of lower education or income have almost double the risk of heart disease compared with those who are better off."