Grains form the base of the majority of meals in this diet. Rusk, bread, pasta and rice are widely used.
Fruit and vegetables
Frequent use and large quantities of fruits and vegetables always in-season. In this diet the dessert is generally fruit. Try to limit sweets as much as possible.
Legumes and nuts
A wide variety of legumes and nuts, such as chickpeas, lentils, haricot beans, pine kernels, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc. are used quite frequently in cooking.
Olive oil and olives
Olive oil is virtually the only fat consumed in Crete. Approximately 25 lt per person, the highest in the world.
Cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products with moderation, but everyday.
Consume at least twice per week. It is offered as a first class of protein source.
Consume only few times per month (once per week is ideal).
Drink a moderate quantity of wine, normally with meals, about one or two glasses. Prefer the red one.
The example of the seven countries study
A comparative study among seven countries (the 7 countries study), which began in 1960 by Dr. Ancel Keys of Harvard University, had a group of 12,000 men (including 700 Cretan) under medical observation, regularly checking the state of their health. The outcome of this study showed that Cretans have had the lowest percentage of deaths caused by heart attacks and different kinds of cancer. This study has also shown the Cretan population to be the longest living one.
When, in 1991, thirty-one years after the beginning of the seven countries study, the Social Health Sector of the University of Crete undertook a medical follow up of that group, about 50% of Cretans was found to be still alive as opposed to the rest of the six participating countries where there wasn’t a single survivor (even in the rest of Greece)! The fact that olive oil is virtually the only fat consumed in Crete, is one of the fundamental attributes that make the Cretan diet to score that high.