The world famous Mediterranean diet is a nutritional guideline inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, and especially of Crete, Italy, Spain and Cyprus. This diet is widely recognized as healthy, with copious amounts of research to support it, making the Cretan diet ideal especially for those seeking a heart- healthy dietary plan.
The basics of the Cretan diet are:
Plenty of fiber (fruit and vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts)
Little if any processed foods
Small to moderate daily amounts of dairy products (especially in the form of cheese and yoghurt)
Fish and game in small to moderate weekly amounts
Moderate wine consumption
Red meat in very small monthly amounts (two to three servings a month)
Olive oil as the main source of fat, as it contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats.
The numerous health effects of olive oil include its’ high levels of oleic acid, which studies suggest that it may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk, its’ antioxidants that help improve cholesterol regulation, as well as its’ anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties. Combined with the Cretan diet’s low content of saturated fats, high content of monounsaturated fats and dietary fiber, together with some level of physical activity makes it an ideal dietary recommendation not only to those pursuing weight loss but also improved heart health.
Contrary to what its name suggests, the Mediterranean diet is not the basis of all Mediterranean cuisines. For example, the French cuisine does not follow its’ guidelines, whereas the Cretan diet is widely considered to be the most characteristic of all. That is because the core of the Cretan cuisine is only natural products, fruit, vegetable and grains, herbs and aromatic plants, the cultivation of which is highly favored by the exceptional regional climate. The famous Cretan extra virgin olive oil is considered one of the best worldwide and it is used to complement all Cretan dishes. Wine is a staple of the Cretan diet as well. Almost no lunch is complete without a glass of red wine, and the most classic Cretan dessert is homemade yoghurt with dried fruits, sweetened with a little bit of honey.
The simple fact that Cretans maintain most of their dietary habits and continue to exclude processed ingredients and high quantities of red meats and Trans fats, combined with the remarkably high quality of Cretan produce only lead to one conclusion: the real Mediterranean diet is the Cretan diet!