Olive oil is the basic ingredient of the Cretan diet and is the only source of fatty acids.
The traditional Cretan diet has the following characteristics:
• Ample fiber (pulses, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, nuts).
• Very few processed products.
• Very limited consumption of bread and alcohol.
• Dairy products (mainly cheese and yoghurt), are eaten daily in small to moderate quantities.
• Fish and poultry in small to moderate quantities.
• Red meat, 2 times a month.
• Olive oil, as the main and sole source of fat in the diet.
• Usually the meal is accompanied by a glass of red wine.
Various ecological, socio-economic, cultural and religious factors contributed to the development of this unique Cretan diet.
In 1960, the Mediterranean diet (based on the Cretan diet) was defined by health and nutrition scientists. It has been the subject of intense scientific research in recent years. The term Mediterranean diet, in the way it is used today, was essentially introduced by nutritionalists to describe the diet of those living in Crete, but also the diets of other regions of the Mediterranean that had similar characteristics in the 1950s and 1960s. Because olive oil was the main source of fat in the Cretan diet, the term Mediterranean diet essentially describes the nutritional model that prevailed in the Mediterranean regions where olive trees were grown traditionally.