The Cretan Diet and Health
People who eat the Mediterranean diet have a much lower incidence of all major disease – and the Cretan version of that diet is the healthiest of all…
Heart attacks, stroke, cancer, arthritis, asthma, neurological and psychiatric disease are all rare amongst Cretans – who also have the longest life-span in the world. In the village of Oreino, for example, where our Mellow Gold oil comes from, of the 100 residents, 15 are over a hundred. In a few years there will be several thousand centenarians in Crete.
Some Cretan Diet Fans!
Meet Mr Giorgos Thomakos (above) – 90 years old and still running his Cafe single-handedly.
Meet Kiria Maria (left) – 88 years old; the church caretaker in Prina;daily yogurt and honey, copious olive oil and strict relgious fasts keep her young.
It is now known that the Cretan’s health is due to their diet, especially its very high content of excellent extra virgin olive oil made from the koroneiki olive. The koroneiki olive is packed with disease-preventing nutrients including polyphenols, flavonoids, oleic acid and vitamins.
The Cretan Diet has long attracted interest for its possible health value (for more history, see here), and the Seven Countries Study provided the proof…. and showed that the large intake of olive oil is largely responsible …
“The Seven Countries Study ”
In the 1940s, the “Seven Countries Study” began, thanks to an American doctor named Ancel Keys. He had noted the soaring rate of heart attacks in middle aged men, and believed this was due to their sedentary lifestyle and bad diet (rich in meat and dairy fats). He decided to study these men, and documented the now well-known facts:
Dr Keys had also noticed that people in the southern Mediterranean, particularly those in Crete, who followed a “Mediterranean diet”, were extremely healthy. He decided to compare the diets and disease rates in several different countries.
The “Seven Countries Study” (Finland, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, USA and Yugoslavia) began in 1958, and enrolled 13,000 men aged 40-59. The results showed that a mediterranean diet protects against major heart disease and is associated with a long life. The Cretans were the healthiest of all despite consuming more fat than anyone else. But it wasn’t just any old fat! Cretans’ sole dietary fat is extra virgin olive oil – which is composed almost entirely of ‘good’ fat – whereas the other nations’ dietary fat was butter, other vegetable or seed oils.
Today, Cretans still eat far more olive oil than anyone else. The EU EUROSTAT study (1996) showed that Cretans consume 31 litres per annum per person (25 litres in other mediterranean countries), compared with less than 1.8 litres per person per year in Germany!
More recently, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to protect against a huge range of diseases and the high content of extra virgin olive oil is key.