Cretan food - Mediterranean Diet

In the international scientific community there is much discussion and searched an ideal diet for to promote health and disease prevention.

The traditional Cretan diet since ancient times appear to meet the those characteristics that make it perfect, as was shown by a study of 7 countries, which began in 1960 and still continues today.

From this study, which involved the longitudinal follow of a group of about 700 men of a rural area of Crete, it appeared that this population had the fewest deaths by heart myocardial and cancers compared with other developed countries. The population of Crete was the longest living compared to other developed countries.

Characteristics were the fact that in 1991, the Department of Social Medicineat the University of Crete undertook the review of older people in the 31st year of the study. Τhe survivors in Crete were about 50% of the initial population, while in Finland there were no survivors!

Extract from the book Cretan Traditional Cuisine of Maria and Nikos Psilakis.
Karmanor editions.

The excellent health and longevity of Cretans is attributed to their traditional diet.

The diet was simple and wholesome: olive oil which gave about one third of daily energy at each person, while most of energy was from cereals mainly bread, legumes, vegetables, fruits and occasionally small amounts of eggs, cheese, milk, meat and fish.

This simple traditional diet of Crete has changed in recent decades mainly by the younger generations. The results are very bad for people's health and premature deaths from heart disease and malignant neoplasm have assumed epidemic proportions.

On the basis of current data would suggest the return to traditional diet of Cretans, with main focus to the limited quantity and frequency of use of meat and other animal products. In contrast, cereals (mainly bread), legumes, vegetables and fruit should be more than 85% of our daily food.

Global recognition

Olive oil, in contrast seed oils is rich of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Olive oil, in contrast seed oils is rich of monounsaturated fatty acids which are resistant to oxidation and reduce LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL cholesterol that protects from atherosclerosis.

The olive oil also contains large amounts of antioxidants such as tocopherols and hydroxyphenols which protect both atherosclerosis and the various forms of cancer through the commitment of toxic free radicals.
Interesting is that the composition of olive oil fatty acids are similar to that of the fat in breast milk.

Antonis Kafatos
Professor of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition
University of Crete