Cretan diet & Nutrition

Cretan diet

The Greek diet, and in particular the Cretan diet, have become synonymous with the Mediterranean diet known as the healthiest in the world. By Dr. Ansel Kis was included in the so-called ‘Seven Countries Survey’ in the late 1950s, which documented heart diseases in different populations.

In 1947 the Rockefeller Foundation offered humanitarian aid to Crete’s islanders who were suffering from the devastation of the war. The ‘poor diet’ was documented, which was maintained and consisted of wild vegetables, fruits, vegetables, barley bread and nuts, some proteins and a lot of olivetol. While the Rockefeller Foundation initially doubted this forced and desperate diet, to their great surprise, they later found that the Cretans were unusually healthy. There were no traces of malnutrition in the Greek diet (Cretan diet).

At the same time, the young cardiologist Ansel Kis in Naples, Italy, was surprised that there was not a single patient with cardio-logical problems in the entire clinic where he worked during the war. Kis realized that this disease was related to nutrition. He started a study of cardiovascular disease and lifestyle in seven totally different countries: Italy, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Finland, the United States, Japan and Greece. He found that while the Cretans consumed a lot of fat (the same amount as the Finns in meat balls), they did not suffer from heart disease. The Finns got most of their fats (saturated) from meat and animal products. In contrast to the Cretans who only got their fats (unsaturated) from olive oil. The Cretan diet as well as the Greek diet in the 1950s contained carbohydrates (mainly bread and barley zwieback), wild vegetables (more than 80 varieties), vegetables, fruits and olive oil. This diet contained practically no cheese because it was sold and almost no meat. By the late 1950s, Kis had already recognized the Cretan diet as the healthiest in the world.


Olive oil can be used as a fat in almost all recipes, and it is a much healthier product than many other fats.

The virgin and extra virgin olive oil can be used in salads and dips. In Greece it is also used for cooking. In contrast to other oils, olive oil is well suited for cooking (grilling, deep-frying, roasting or in the oven etc.) because it withstands high temperatures due to the antioxidants. It is more heat-resistant than other vegetable oils at high temperatures (200 instead of 170 degrees Celsius). Some people judge that the olive oil turns dark after 2-3 uses. But this is not a defect, but proof of the naturalness. The dark color results from the ‘baking’ of the natural dyes.