Optimize the Benefits You Get from the Mediterranean Diet

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A recent study reveals that while the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease but only among a select group of participants. This particular diet emphasizes eating plant-based foods with fish and poultry, limiting consumption of red meat, using olive oil instead of butter, and sufficient exercise.


Benefits Limited to Socioeconomic Status

The study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that the Mediterranean diet effectively reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Specifically, only those with higher incomes or more education can experience this benefit. No benefits occurred for participants in the low income and low education group.


According to Marialaura Bonaccio, lead author of the new study and a researcher at the Italian Clinical Research Institute (IRCCS) Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed,

“We found heart advantages were limited to high socioeconomic status groups, even if groups showed the same adherence to the Mediterranean diet.”


Bonaccio states that people from different income levels get different results from the same diet may actually be true for other diets as well. She states that this is probably due to these diets focusing on the quantity, rather than on the quality of the food.


“Let’s give that two persons follow the same diet, that is equal amounts of vegetables, fruits, fish, olive oil etc. every day so that they report the same adherence score to Mediterranean diet. It might be that, beyond quantity, differences in quality may exist. For example, in olive oil.”


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Furthermore, Bonaccio shares that “our hypothesis is that differences in the price may yield differences in healthy components and future health outcomes.”


Mercedes Sotos-Prieto shares that based on her research, the Mediterranean diet is still one of the best choices to improve one’s health. She notes that the results may also be occurring in the United States among those who follow this particular diet. The assistant professor found a similar difference in health results depending on socioeconomic status.


The Mediterranean Diet Quality over Quantity

Dr. Barbara Berkeley agrees with the authors’ hypothesis, stating

“A good diet is undoubtedly more than just a shopping list. Quality, freshness, variety and purity of production may truly differentiate diets even when they appear to be the same. A healthy diet is likely not the sum of its parts but the quality of its elements.”


Indeed, the takeaway here is that whether you follow the Mediterranean diet or another diet, in order to maximize its benefits, you should pay attention to the quality of the food that you consume rather than the mere quantity of what you eat.

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