The modern dietetics today considers the Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle that offers longevity and good health. Most of the investigations, however, have internationally recognized Cretan diet as the best and most striking example of the Mediterranean diet. Having established that the inhabitants have smaller mortality rates, the smallest worldwide mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer, began to seek the identity of the diet that gave (and gives) the Cretans these excellent health benefits.
Very quickly it seemed like a story that is lost in the mists of time. It is not a result of the study of some scientists but a biological experiment that lasts thousands of years.
The story of the Cretan diet starts very early, even before the Neolithic period. From the findings of archaeological excavations seems that ancient Cretans, the Minoans, consumed almost the same products what the current Cretan consume too. In the palaces of the Minoan period were found large jars of olive oil, the Cereals, pulses and honey. At various iconographic testimonies, you could see the amazing world of Cretan plants and herbs.
In Byzantine times, the Cretans maintain their habits and cuisine of urban families has intricate dishes that offer excellent taste. The rural population still uses nature and its products. These were the basis of the famous traditional Cretan cuisine. Grasses, legumes, cereals, olive oil.
The Cretan could cook his products in many ways, to make tasty and delicious. This habit helped him to survive under extreme conditions, when the island was occupied successively by Arabs (824 - 961), the Venetians (1204 - 1669) and the Turks (1669 - 1898). The most significant change in the Cretan diet occurred when they began to spread through the island products that came from the New World, particularly the tomato.
So the rich diet of Cretan added another product. The conquerors were changing but their soul, their religion,their language and their cuisine main the same .... the Cretan. This then created the miracle of the Cretan diet.
The Characters, the Products
For Cretans, the secret of good health and longevity is simple, very simple. Eat what produces the rich land. Many fruits, vegetables, herbs, vegetables, legumes, cheese and bread. Rich taste with wonderful herbs, prepare sweets with natural sweeteners, honey and molasses, and accompany their meal with excellent Cretan wine. They did not eat meat until a few decades ago.
The meat was always connected to Crete with religious ceremonies. In later years they ate meat only a few times a year, on major holidays, or if they had the means, every Sunday.
The inventiveness of the people get the most possible combinations and there is now an infinite number of recipes that give great dishes.
When in late 1950 Americans dietitians came to Crete to consider the phenomenon of longevity of the Cretans, could not believe their eyes. How much olive oil they eat, my God, exclaimed the renowned physicial Ancel Keys, as he watched the green salad literally bathe in olive oil. In essence, Keys repead what they had noticed in previous centuries almost all the travelers who were interested in the daily life of the Cretans. Today it is believed that olive oil is the greatest secret of Cretan Cretan diet and longevity. Medical researches made and continue to be made in Europe and America reveal that olive oil protects the heart and helps in proper functioning of many organs or benificial in a long series of illnesses.
Olive oil reduces cholesterol has antioxidant and protects against cancer, helps liver function is ideal for feeding people suffering from diabetes and more.
The quality of Cretan olive oil is known around the world.
It is not industrial but a natural product which became from a simple crushing of olive extracts and without additives. It is the best, the lightest, the most delicious olive oil in the world, a product that is grown with care and packaged with pure and natural from companies show their respect to both product and the consumer himself.
Try it instead of butter in your breakfast.
It is the best, healthiest, most delicious breakfast.
The natural environment of Crete favors the development of organic agriculture, particularly in basic agricultural products, those acclimatized so ideal climatic conditions on the island.
In recent years, organic farmers' groups began to taste a great effort. To offer the consumption of organic farming that will fully meet the needs of the modern consumer. The start was made from olive and vegetable crops.
The demand for these products has been impressive. Every year new ones are added to the lists of organic farmers organized groups organic agriculture while more and more specialized and scientists working in the field of organic agriculture.
Culture and health
Today Cretans need to deliver to humanity the secret of life so that they will offer, along with history and culture, the cultural object called Cretan diet.
To assure that the island today is a giant development effort to preserve traditional values and the dietary habits of older Cretan, despite efforts made by various centers to promote other dietary habits, especially fast food.
The Cretans producers and processors who make packaging and promotion assures that the Cretan products are always pure, so as we got it from our ancestors, as history teaches us.
The herbs are still an important tradition in Crete. Botanical studies reveal that the island has one of the richest and most interesting ecosystems in Europe, with a large number of endemic plants, ie plants that are native only in Crete, such as mountain teas (siderites syrioca)
Dittany too (origanum diktamus L.) king of the endemic flora of Crete, known for its antiseptic properties. Especially Hippocrates recommended as dittany okytokeio herb that made women to have a birth painlessly and quickly.
The Cretan herbs panels on the market today offer many herbs such as oregano (origanum onites), basil (ocimum basilicum L.),
tilio (tilia cordata mill.), marjoram (origanum majorana), thyme (thymus sibthorpii benth), peppermint (mentha), rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), bay
(Laurus nobilis L.), chamomile (matricaria chamomilla L.), sage (salvia officinatis) and others. All of them have been used since ancient years till today as medicinal plants.
The Cretan herbs (among them dittany) grow on the steep mountains of the island and collected from experienced collectors to dry under natural conditions and bring in modern packaging, without any chemical or other treatment. Today you don't have to get tired to find these herbs and enjoy as a flavoring of your dishes. The modern packaging units care to maintain the natural scent and other amazing properties, among which is the antioxidant that the Cretan herbs have..
For a traditional Cretan way of life seems that wine is always there for lunch or dinner. Wine is part of their culture. They never drink alone. Wine is an element of social relationships. They drink with friends, feasting and chatting.
We must not forget to say that the oldest wine press, over 3,500 years old located in Crete, Archanes. This tradition goes hand in hand with knowledge and technology. The Cretan wine is not only associated with the delivery, but also their knowledge of new developments and consumer preferences.
Specific varieties oenologists tried experiments to discover flavors and offer consumption in fine wines, which can satisfy all tastes and requirements.
Do not forget that the vine is grown consistently in the island for at least 4000 years. According to mythology, wine is a great gift god Dionysus. He is the god of joy, life and friends. And the mythology tells us that his favorite companion was the daughter of Minos, the legendary king of Crete, Ariadne. These are, perhaps, the roots of a story that no one knows when it starts ....
Wine regions: Archanes Prose (province Pediados) Dafnes, Monofatsi Sitia and Kissamos Cydonia.
Raki (or raki)
Is a clear alcoholic beverage made primarily from strafyla (the skins of grapes, after wine and get a bunch of them) but there is raki made from berries (mournoraki) and is highly alcoholic, intense aroma and strong flavor. It is known since the time of Turkish occupation, served in special, very small glasses and comes usually from groundnuts. The advent of Asia Minor diversify classic meze in: Savoury, peppery old cheese, fried snails etc.
You can find it in all cafes, taverns, restaurants, even in the modatakafe Crete, and of course in all homes. Bottled and sold in bulk.
One of the most important differences of the Cretan diet diets of other Mediterranean regions lies the vast consumption of fruit. The Cretan eating six times more fruit than the average resident of the other Mediterranean areas and six times more than the inhabitant of a northern country (eg the Netherlands), as shown by the studies of A. Keys (1970) and D. Kromhout ( 1989). The European travelers arriving in Crete in the 19th century exalted oranges nisiou.I of Greek mythology says that citrus was the gift of Gaia, the earth, the marriage of the father of gods, Zeus and Hera. This divine gift, which was, according to Greek mythology, the gardens of the Hesperides, away from people, grown extensively in the plain of Chania. Smaller crops in the plain of Messara Heraklion Fodele and away.
Was the main fruit of winter, the fruit was not absent from any house in Crete. Recommend the same recipe and now physicians. The Orange will be missing from the table, the natural juice should not be missing from our lives, the fruit should not ever play a secondary role in our diet. They are rich sources of vitamin C (especially orange), rich sources of vitamin B12 (essential for the production of blood), and vitamins that have antioxidant, anticancer and protective for heart disease (A, C and E).
In Crete, the fruits are traditional. The trees are perfectly adapted to the local environment and producing tasty products without chemical charges. Processing plants for these products (juices, orange, lime, etc.) are modern and respect the specificity of feedstock. The prime summer Crete fruit, the grape is now ideal for a balanced diet. The substances contained in the bark are antioxidant (cancer) and this delicious fruit has many nutrients essential for proper functioning of the body. The grape of Crete, apart from grapes other regions, is indicated for the aroma and flavor. In recent years they have developed extensive special traditional crop varieties have seeds and can be eaten even by small children.
Raisins - Nuts
In Crete, raisins and grapes are, along with honey, the most important traditional sweeteners. The cultivation of the vine on the island dates back to the prehistoric era. Preparing raisin shows the ingenuity of man to maintain nearly dehydrated (dried) form a product where nature gives only during the summer months.
Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, etc.) and other substances contained in raisins is another secret of health for the Cretans who eat either untreated or use it to make great desserts like stafidota and Patouda. Nuts are another favorite flavor to Cretans. Rich sources of linoleic and linolenic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids required for the functioning of all the cells of our body) are true shield for the smooth functioning of the heart.
Nuts of Crete comes from trees without the care of the crop. Walnut, chestnut and almond trees do not grow but systematically cultivated for centuries on the island. Also they produce (rule for Cretan food) products that are completely free of chemical residues.
One of the most important exhibits of the Museum of Heraklion, a museum that preserves most of the secrets of the famous Minoan civilization, is an exquisite gold jewelry "two bees", which many says about their love. This is the most reliable evidence for the relationship the Cretan had with the Cretan bee.
Honey, this excellent sweetener contains various sugars glucose allowing it to be used even in cases of diabetes mellitus. Still, it is a food rich in vitamins and antioxidants (anti-cancer) agents. The main vitamin wich has (E) along with other substances, removes from the body the harmful products either from the same metabolism or by external factors such as smoking, radiation, and various carcinogens. The Cretan honey is completely natural and is produced in areas with endemic vegetation.
As is now known, the bio-system of the island is rich in endemic plants, particularly herbs. These offer the Cretan bees favorite food ... Anyone who trays a stroll at melissokipous of Crete will understand why this island produces the most aromatic honey in the world: thousands scrub smells wonderful and some of them grow only in Crete.
The Cretans melissoparagogoi not need to feed the bees sugar, because there are not snowing periods that the natural vegetation is covered with snow and they can not find their own food..
From prehistoric times until today,Crete continuously produce honey.
Nothing has changed through the millennia. Maybe a bit to improved hive, but everything else remained the same. The bees, herbs, clean environment of the island.
The processing of Cretan honey is also happen with a natural way, without high temperatures to destroy the vitamins.
One of the key features of the Cretan diet is the high consumption of vegetables and foods generally vegetable origin. Cretans eat more vegetables and greens in the western world. Consuming vegetables three times than those consuming other Europeans. It is another secret of good health, since in this way get plenty of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients essential for humans.
The vegetables are believed to help in proper functioning of the digestive system and provide vitamins essential for metabolism of various tissues (such as vitamin B12 to produce blood cells).
Many of the vegetables consumed in large quantities in Crete are polyunsaturated fatty acids that help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Some of the vegetables in Crete from other parts of the world. The most striking example is that of tomato, now experts historians believe that a food has been incorporated so quickly in the kitchen island, which has helped to shape the character of the Cretan diet.
The tomato in Crete is not produced with hormones or aged in artificial conditions and therefore contains large amounts of antioxidants.
The agricultural products of Crete, cucumbers, zucchini, other vegetables produced in fertile plains of the island where it never snows and temperatures at a company, even in the depths of winter, dine outdoors. The culture conditions for these products are ideal near the beaches of the south from which the swallows do not ever leave because you do not need to change the mild climate of Crete.
The Cretan peasant favored by nature and makes the difficult job quite easy enough to keep the love of the land. No need oil to maintain the high temperature because the sun is an ally and showcases the distinctive aroma and distinctive flavor. This is another secret of the locals. Eat vegetables every day, because enjoying the natural taste and aroma.
We often see the visitors who have used the products developed in foreign tasteless (artificial) environment, without the lively sunlight. The taste of Cretan horticultural products reminiscent earlier age, is original and surprising.
Early Cretan vegetables grown in large greenhouses of Ierapetra extent of Messara, south of Rethymnon, in coastal areas of Selino, Kissamos and elsewhere.