According to the United Nations no other region of the Mediterranean had such low levels of mortality as Crete, both before and after, the Second World War.
he genuine traditional Cretan Diet has been deeply examined by researchers (e.g. the study of Seven Countries) proving that it is the healthiest diet in the world! The healthiest cuisine in the world, the Mediterranean is nothing but the Cretan Cuisine of 1960s. It has wrongly (and fraudulently) prevailed under the definition Mediterranean, as the features of the "Mediterranean diet" in all their spectrum are found only in Crete and in no other place on earth.
The traditional Cretan cuisine is based on the consumption of cereals, nuts, wild greens, herbs, dairy products, honey, fruits, vegetables, legumes and wine, while the meat is relatively rare, especially because of long periods of fasting. However, the giant of the Cretan diet is the virgin olive oil, used exclusively as a source of fat, completely excluding animal fats.
Today it’s believed that olive oil is the biggest secret of Cretan Cretan diet and longevity. Medical research in Europe and America showed and continues to show that olive oil not only protects the heart but also helps in proper functioning of many organs or acts beneficial to a long series of diseases. It reduces cholesterol, has antioxidant effects and protects against cancer, helps the liver, is ideal for feeding people with diabetes and much more!
Wine production in Crete has a long history since wine was certainly being made by the Minoans before 1600 BC. Under the Roman Empire in the second century, Crete was known for a sweet wine, protropos, which was exported to Italy. In late medieval Europe, in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, vino di Candia and Crete are wine names listed as highly valued in several sources from western and northern Europe. They were sweet and "hot" wines.
Cheese consumption on Crete is the largest on a world scale! Cretans do not actually see food as some sort of medicine; they know how to enjoy different tastes. The taste of Cretan cheese, gruyere and its varieties, sweet and sour soft cheese and other dairy products is unsurpassed! A significant source of calcium and proteins with high biological value, the Cretan cheese plays a significant role in Cretan diet.
Crete has produced honey since pre-historic times without interruption. Perhaps the structure of the beehive has improved, but everything else has remained unchanged; the bees, the aromatic herbs, the environment. This type of precious honey kills bacteria and viruses, reinforces the circulatory system, heart and nerves. It bolsters the body's defences against infections and other illnesses, relieves stress as well as intense pressure and nervousness.
Crete has the most species of herbs and spices growing wild in Europe. The traditional Cretan diet features the use of organic herbs and spices quite heavily and adds flavour, aroma and variety to foods. Herbs like Oregano, Thyme and Marjoram are most often used. Cretans also use many of the herbs to make aromatic tea. Cretan tea and Dittany are the most popular but you'll also find Cretans drinking chamomile, lemon verbena and basil tea.
In Crete, raisins are a health secret for Cretans, since it provides many vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, etc.). Dried nuts are also a favorite flavor for the Cretans. Nuts are rich sources of linoleic and linolenic acid, essential for the functioning of cells, and constitute a natural shield for the proper functioning of the heart. Nuts of Crete come from trees that usually yield nuts without being cultivated!
From ancient times, Cretans consume large quantities of fruit. This is due to the wide variety of fruits produced on the island, mainly from each family for personal use. From tropical Arvi bananas, avocados of Chania, figs and dates produced in the fertile valleys of the south, to the citrus of Maleme. From watermelons and melons in Mesara to sweet grapes of Archanes.
One basic feature of the Cretan diet is the large consumption of vegetables and other products of vegetable origin. On average, Cretans are at the top of the scale in terms of vegetable consumption. In fact, they consume three times the amount of vegetables than Europeans! That, too, is part of their secret for a long and healthy life. This dietary habit provides the average Cretan with an abundance of fibers, vitamins, and other nutrients required for human sustenance.
A characteristic of the Mediterranean diet (ie Cretan diet), among others, is the consumption a lot of grain and cereals, grown on the island with care and without additives. The Cretan rusk is famous throughout the world and plays an extremely important nutritional role in the Cretan diet.