The Cretan diet is a good example of the flavors and traditions of the Mediterranean. The kitchen is mainly characterized by the use of seasonal products with an emphasis on healthy ingredients. The preparation is simple and straightforward as it focuses on releasing the natural flavors of the ingredients.
Currently, the Mediterranean diet is considered by nutritionists to be a temporary “lifestyle” that guarantees longevity and good health, as evidenced by research conducted internationally. It has been found that the inhabitants of Crete have the lowest mortality rates related to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The researchers then turned their attention to certain aspects of nutrition responsible for this powerful health.
The Seven Healthiest Ingredients of the Cretan Diet
Base for many hot and cold dishes: olive oil and olives from Crete
For the people of Crete, olive oil is the essence of life. It is aromatic, rich in nutrients and said to be able to reduce the risk of cancer. Some studies show that it can protect the heart muscle and enhance the work of various organs. It is also worth noting the antioxidant effect that Cretan olive oil can develop. It is often eaten with bread. Rich in herbs, it becomes a delicious dip. Of course, it is also used in cooking and seasoning. Fresh salads can be served with it, which gets more flavor from the oil. The prerequisite for a strong aroma and high nutritional content is superior quality. Cretan olive oil is not produced synthetically. It is obtained by pressing olives, during which mixtures and extracts are systematically avoided.
Sweet Seduction: Cretan Honey from the Garden of the Aromatic Gods
Honey is a healthy alternative to regular sugar as it is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Cretan honey is also especially tasty because it is a natural product. The island is like a herb garden of the gods that smells sweet and thus attracts bees. They are producers of delicious Cretan honey that is a delight to the palate and can be part of a healthy diet. Thyme honey produced by bees in late summer is in great demand. It’s great to stir-fry with Greek yogurt or snack with fruit, muesli or bread. It can even be used as a detoxifier to a limited extent. Honey contains vitamin E, which can rid the body of harmful substances. Gentle low-temperature manufacturing processes ensure that the valuable vitamins in Cretan honey are not lost.
From mild to creamy: cheese products from Crete
Who would have thought! In terms of population, Crete is one of the regions of the world with the highest cheese consumption. The reason is simple: delicious and healthy cheese has been produced on the island for centuries. Known varieties include:
– Graviera hard cheese (made from sheep’s milk and possibly goat’s milk)
Hard Kefalogravera cheese (made from sheep’s milk and possibly goat’s milk)
Myzithra soft cheese (made from sheep and goat whey with added milk)
Kefaloteri hard cheese (made from sheep and/or goat milk)
Fresh anthoteros cheese (from sheep’s milk and/or goat’s milk)
On the one hand, Cretan cheese tastes very good, and on the other hand, it supports the Cretan diet with its nutrients. Therefore, it is a source of calcium and protein. Recent research findings suggest that milk protein breakdown products may have a protective effect on breast tumors and prostate cancer. At the same time, Cretan cheeses contain many vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid,… The high content of vitamins is supplemented with minerals and amino acids. The nutritional richness of Cretan cheese has been scientifically proven.
Vitamin bombs par excellence: the fruits of Crete
Fruit is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. In the foreground is the Cretan orange, because it contains a high content of vitamin C and vitamin B12. The Cretan grape is the most famous of the Cretan orange. It is a healthy and delicious snack. Thanks to its antioxidant components, it perfectly complements a balanced diet. In addition, the berries contain an incredible amount of trace elements, which have a positive effect on the metabolism.
There is no main dish without vegetables
The main dish in Crete usually consists of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. In order to achieve this perfect combination, vegetables are used. It occupies a prominent place in the Mediterranean diet. Nutrient-dense vegetables are eaten raw, boiled, or steamed. Frying is generally avoided as it may destroy nutrients and increase fat content.
Raisins, carob, nuts and more: little things that matter
What would the Cretan diet be without the complexity?
To make it possible, some dishes contain very special ingredients. It is not the main ingredient, but it enriches the dish with its aroma and nutrients. At the top of the list are raisins. They are not only rich in vitamins and have a strong taste, but go well with pastries and pies. Carob is less well known but not least appreciated. It has earned a reputation as a superfood among nutrition conscious because it is a healthy and natural sweetener. Today, it is used as an ingredient in innovative confectionery and bakery products. Carob can save energy and is suitable for flour production.
Nuts are a rich classic of Crete. They contain polyunsaturated fatty acids that can have a positive effect on cellular function in the body. They have earned a reputation for being able to protect against heart disease. Another unusual and internationally loved plant that thrives in eastern Crete: aloe vera. It is called the “plant of immortality”. It has been used in natural cosmetics for centuries. What is less well known is that aloe vera can be drunk.
From the sea and pastures: fish, shellfish, meat
The Cretan diet is more meat-oriented than marine. So the Mediterranean diet uses lamb and goat meat as a delicious source of protein. It is very tender and has an authentic taste, the same applies to rabbit and chicken meat, which also enriches the Cretan diet.
Spices make the difference: Cretan herbs
What would a kitchen be without spices? Countless aromatic herbs thrive in Crete and can be used to enhance dishes. However, it is not only its aroma that makes it so desirable. Herbs have long been evaluated for their potential effect on the body. It has been cleverly linked to specific foods, for example to enhance digestibility. Sage, wild marjoram, and oregano are among the most popular herbs in the Cretan diet.
Crispy and healthy: baked goods from Crete
Extensive studies have been conducted that prove that Cretan bread is rich in valuable dietary fiber, which has a positive effect on intestinal function. In particular, the large intestine is activated. Some nutritionists suggest that whole-grain bread may offer some protection against colon cancer. Cretan whole grain bread remains an important part of the Mediterranean diet.
Cretan rusk, which has been recognized as a product by the European Union. It is unique and of high quality. This rusk is rich in natural raw materials and nutrients.
Representation of hospitality and friendliness: Crete drinks
Wine can have a positive effect on the body if consumed in moderation. In addition, grape juice has a psychological component, which is another reason for its importance in the Mediterranean diet: wine is synonymous with camaraderie, celebration and synergy. It is an expression of hospitality and liveliness. As a result, the drink can contribute to internal balance and provide a feeling of happiness. These, in turn, have a proven positive effect on health.
Many health and nutrition experts have praised the health benefits of the Cretan diet, as it makes eating healthy foods much easier. The main components of the Mediterranean diet provide the body with adequate amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and these essential nutrients help reduce heart problems and reduce levels of bad cholesterol. Some also swear that the Cretan diet can help with weight loss.
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