Cretan Nutrition

It is well known that the traditional Cretan nutrition is a model of a healthier diet. The research on Cretan diet began in 1948. Then, after the Second World War, the Greek Government, in its attempt to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of Crete called, researchers from the U.S.A. Assessing the diet of the island's inhabitants, the researchers found it more than sufficient to the vast majority of the population. In 1960, the "Seven Countries Study" made known to the general public the valuable results of the Cretan diet. According to United Nations data, there was no other region in the Mediterranean with such low levels of mortality as Crete, both before and after the Second World War. This research based on a long term study of a group consisted of 700 men from agricultural areas on the island, showed that this population had suffered the fewest deaths from heart attack and certain cancers and was the longest living compared to other developed countries.

The traditional Cretan cuisine is based on the consumption of cereals, vegetables and herbs, dairy, fruits, legumes, nuts, wine, honey and limited quantity of meat. Besides, the island of Crete is famous for its rich agricultural production and the excellent quality of its products. The best known good, located on the top of the food pyramid is the olive oil. The olive trees that one comes across along the length and width of Crete become the synonym of the natural terrain of the island. These trees, generously offer to residents that fine product. Olive oil, unlike seed oils, is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and is a product of high nutritional value. Olive oil, also, contains a large amount of antioxidants that protect the organism from various diseases. Moreover, it is very interesting to mention the fact that composition of fatty acids in olive oil is similar to that of fat in breast milk.

The history of the Cretan cuisine is lost in the mists of time. The findings of the excavations prove that the Minoans, 4000 years ago, used to consume almost the same products as the Cretans do today. Jars of oil, grains, legumes and honeys were found in Minoan palaces. Much of these products were exported to the Aegean islands and mainland Greece. Apart from economic benefits, the olive tree was worshiped as sacred and its oil, as well as being offered to Gods and to the dead, used to serve the medicine, sports and everyday life as a key product for feeding, lighting and heating. Thus, the olive tree and its blessed fruit from the past and till today are symbols of knowledge of peace, health and strength. Over the centuries, the Cretan cuisine was preserved intact. During the Byzantine years the Cretans remain faithful to eating habits. The agricultural population survived due to the variety of the Cretan land. Even when the island encountered difficult moments, knowing successive conquerors, Arabs, Venetians and Turks, the elements that helped the Cretans to stay alive were religion, language, soul and the cuisine!

This long time path has created a unique tradition, attracting the interest of the global community, which speaks for the miracle of the Cretan diet.

WCN Chamber Trust
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