Cretan Diet and Cretans

For centuries now Cretans maintain the lead in olive oil consumption, since their yearly consumption amounts to 23-24 kilos per person, .as it has been witnessed by travellers, epidemiological surveys and statistical data.
Over the last years, there is an increasing reference to the Cretan diet model, which considerably differs from the Mediterranean one in terms of style and the kind of olive oil used. Cretan foods are literally drowned in oil.
The Mediterranean diet, a term that is often considered too generalised, became initially worldwide known by the results. of the Seven-Countries study in which
Crete's population was found to exhibit the lowest death rate due to coronary diseases compared to other populations having participated in the research. According to scientists, this is due to the large quantity of monounsaturated fatty acids contained in olive oil, which protect the heart unlike the saturated fatty acids of other animal fats (butter, margarine, lard) included in the diet of North Europeans. An additional explanation would be the high olive oil consumption of the Cretan population that comes up to 100 gr per person on a daily basis. This amount also includes the olive oil intended for frying various foods, such as fish, cheese, vegetable pies, cheese pies, meat. Recent scientific data reveal that high olive oil consumption not only reduces the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, but it also prevents its oxidation due to the antioxidant substances contained in olive oil, such as tocopherols, polyphenols etc. Moreover, olive oil does not reduce HDL levels, as it is the case with other vegetable oils which are rich in polyunsaturated acids.

Extracts from the book "Oil-Tastes and a 5.000 years old Culture" by Mirsini Labraki-Mattheaki
"Ellinika Grammata" Publications, 1999



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