For Cretans, the secret of longevity is very simple. They eat anything that their rich soil produces! They consume a lot of fruit, vegetables, greens, fresh produce, legumes, cheese and bread. Cretans use herbs to add flavor to their meals; they make sweets/cakes with natural sweeteners, honey and grape-juice syrup; while the excellent Cretan wine is an indispensable accompaniment to their meals. Cretans do not eat meat or, rather, they did not eat meat until a few decades ago. Meat has always had a ritual quality in Crete, and generally in Greece. In antiquity, Cretans consumed only the meat offered to the gods on the altar of sacrifice. In modern times, they consumed meat only a few times a year, i.e. during festivities or, if wealthy enough, every Sunday. In other words, the dietary code of Cretans has deep cultural and historical roots.
This, however, should not be considered as a limiting, or even a coercive practice that could undermine the richness of taste. On the contrary, the ingenuity of Cretans exploited fully the entire spectrum of ingredient combinations, which resulted in volumes of recipes for meals and deserts. Snails, for example, are cooked in 40 different ways! Pure olive oil is the sine qua non for all preparations! Fresh produce grown under the most suitable climatic conditions has a prominent place on dinner tables. Cretans do not require doctor's orders to consume large amounts of fruit and vegetables. Grapes, raisins, oranges, etc. are a way of life. Even on days strictly associated with meat-eating, such as the Easter Day, Cretans do not eat only meat. On the contrary, they cook meat with artichokes, wild greens or vegetables a delicious choice!
Mr. Serge Renaud, a French researcher-scientist said, "Following a 15-year follow-up study, it was concluded that Crete manifests the lowest mortality rates irrespective of the cause of death". There is no doubt that the above statement attests to the benefits of the Cretan diet. The French scientist was referring to wide scale research on nutrition that was conducted with the participation of seven countries, including Greece, in 1956 by Dr Ancel Keys, a pioneering investigator and health revolutionary American. Today, the international community has adopted the Cretan model of nutrition by recommending it, as the basis of human nutrition.
Ancel Keys, 1986 compares mortality rates among various regions of the world, including four Mediterranean regions. Crete is last with respect to death causes with a significant difference from the country before last.
Also we have a comparison between the results from the above mentioned study in the seven countries (up to 1986) and pertinent statistical data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) per 100,000 participants (Serge Renaud, 1995). Again, Crete is at the bottom of the list with regard to mortality rates.
In addition to the above, we have the results from a French study in Lyon. The French doctors divided their patients with heart diseases in two groups. The first group was put on a diet recommended by the US Society of Cardiology -- a low fat/cholesterol diet -- and served as control group. The second group was prescribed the Cretan diet to be followed during their normal way of life. The results were statistically significant. In two years mortality rates in the second group dropped by 75%!
Modern Cretans feel the urge to share their secrets of life with the world. Besides their history and culture, they are also willing to share with people their prized cultural heritage known as CRETAN DIET.
Cretans would like to let the world know of a gigantic effort taking place on the island to preserve traditional values and nutritional customs, in spite of the influx of promotional activities favoring foreign nutritional habits, mainly that of fast food.
Cretan producers and local processing, packaging, and marketing companies warrant that all Cretan products are pure, without chemical substances or other preservatives and additives. Cretan products, being part of a centuries old tradition, are treated with the same respect as that afforded to them by our ancestors