March 11 (UPI) -- When it comes to having good heart health, education matters, new findings say.
College-educated adults are seven times more likely to follow a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet than those with just a high-school degree, according to new research published in the March issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
"Our findings highlight the importance of patient education," study author Benjamin Greiner, a researcher at Oklahoma State University, said in a news release. "Finding ways to introduce patients to the Mediterranean diet and guide them through the behavior change process should be a priority for physicians."
Within the college-educated group, women are three times more likely than men to take on the heart-healthy diet, the researchers say.
The Mediterranean diet promotes consumption of fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil.
One study says that olive oil helps fight off strokes in obese people, which backs up the current research.
Another study has reported that the Mediterranean diet can cut cardiovascular disease by 25 percent.
Heart disease, the most common cardiovascular disease, is the leading cause of death for people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2010, the CDC estimated that costs associated with cardiovascular diseases and strkoke reached $444.2 billion.
"The good news is this is not an expensive or complicated diet, so patients with limited resources should be able to follow it and significantly improve their health," Greiner said. "While physicians can't change the level of formal education their patients achieve, they can provide crucial information that helps them live longer and healthier."