Cretan diet: the treatment on your plate!

Cretan diet: the treatment on your plate!

The pure ingredients, produced by the fertile land of Crete combined with a fabulous way, are the feature of the Cretan diet that is famous for its wonderful tastes and healing virtues.

When we talk about the Cretan diet, we are referring to the diet of the Cretans from the 1960s. It is a diet rooted in the ancient times that lasts till today with a few changes. Taking advantage of the food treasures that the blessed land provides them, the Cretans created recipes with olive oil, grain, legumes, herbs, vegetables and dried fruit as the main ingredients. Another feature of the Cretan diet is the rare consumption of red meat and the more usual of cheese, eggs, chicken, fish, sheep and goat. A glass of wine should always accompany the meal.

According to various studies, this diet has made Cretans the number one in the list of the fewer deaths by heart attacks and various types of cancers comparing to the other developed countries.

The most known is the study of the 7 countries. It is a study that started a few years before 1960 by an American cardiologist, Ancel Keys, together with his colleagues from Minessota. Their aim was to find if there is a connection between diet and heart diseases. The team chose to study about 13.000 men in 14 areas (Crete and Corfu from Greece) of 7 different countries, Finland, the Nederland, Japan, the USA, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece. After a long-term study, the results showed that the lower mortality percentages were only in Crete due to the plain diet of its residents as the olive oil gives the 1/3 of the everyday energy needed from a man. It is said that, when he was in Crete for his study and after seeing the quantity of olive oil consumed in only one salad, Ancel Keys said “Oh my God, how much olive oil they eat!”.

That is the paradox of the Cretan diet that is also stated in the book by Maria and Nikos Psilakis and the Karmanor publications, “Traditional Cretan Cuisine, the miracle of the Cretan diet”. So it is mentioned that the Cretans consumed a triple quantity of fat than an American and about one and a half times more fats that the residents of other Mediterranean countries. The difference is that the Cretans consumed only pure and not-cooked olive oil.

A French scientist, Serge Renaud, carried out a survey on the healing virtues of the Cretan diet. Being impressed by the results, he suggested “Don’t try to find the pill that substitutes the Cretan diet. It does not exist”.

That text referred to the Cretan and not the Mediterranean diet. The Cretan diet is a part of the Mediterranean. The Cretan diet is frequently identified with the Mediterranean but the Cretan diet was the reason of the success of the Mediterranean diet (and of course good marketing)…

The two diets have many similarities but they cannot be identified. One of the most important differences is the analogy of the recommended food consumption. An important differentiation of the diets is also the lifestyle of the people that follow it. The Cretans had a very intense physical exercise. The exercise needed in order to do their jobs helps the fat burning and the weight maintenance.

The Cretan diet is combined with the family gathering at the table. The meal at the table was a whole philosophy for the Cretans, a part of their culture and a ritual. The whole family should be at the table in order the hostess to lay the plates on it. That ritual helps the physical and the psychological health of the people.

The modern lifestyle has changed the everyday diet habits of the Cretans and, especially, the younger generations and the inhabitants of the large cities. But the wonderful smells from the traditional Cretan dishes can show the path for a life full of health.