The mediterranean diet « also known as cretan diet » refers specifically to the traditional diet of the Greek islands of Crete and Corfu, where we can find an abundant use of olive oil.
Interest in this type of food begun with the study conducted by Ancel Keys in the 1950s (The Seven Countries Study), which demonstrated that despite a high dietary fat intake and a relatively careless health system the inhabitants of these islands (and those of southern Italy) had an excellent life expectancy in adulthood, in addition of presenting a very low rate of coronary heart disease.
the popularity of the Mediterranean diet has spread like wildfire in the world Since the publication of this study in the medical journal The Lancet in 1994, also, scientific studies continue to prove its effectiveness in prevention of many diseases.
Why Mediterraean Diet is good for health?
The significance of a diet of this nature has been a subject of debate for most people. As such, a lot of research has been carried out to clarify the subject. A possible reason for the benefits of this type of diet may be its antioxidant and anticoagulant effects.
The Antioxidant Effect
With this effect, your chances of having your cells damaged by unfavorable factors is almost reduced to zero as it helps to protect your cells from being attacked by free radicals. Free radicals are those molecules that are produced by the body during the process of digestion. Our body works in such a way that it automatically gets rid of this type of radicals. This is because it has an in-built antioxidant system.
The antioxidant effect becomes very relevant when we consider plaques that block the arteries; simply because they contain inflammatory cells that are responsible for the production of a great amount of free radicals.
The Anticoagulant Effect
This effect is particular to the omega-3 fatty acids that is present in fatty fish and canola oil. These fatty acids prevent the formation of blood clots in the arteries by reducing the chances of blood coagulation. This becomes highly useful to the body since these blood clots in the arteries happen to play a major role in the cause of heart attack.
Scientists are finding it difficult, by way of explanation, to explain exactly why the Mediterranean diet is useful. On the other hand, with data gathered from cardiovascular related research, medical experts are able to advise people who have had a heart attack experience in the past or those who have a high chance of experiencing it, to stick to this type of diet.
But what do the Cretans eat?
when it comes to the traditional Cretan regime, we can find those main characteristics :
– Very limited consumption of red meat.
– Regular consumption of fish, especially fatty fish.
– Poultry from time to time (twice a week), provided it is of good quality.
– Fresh fruits and vegetables at all meals (preferably local production).
– Complete cereals at least once a day (wholemeal bread, whole rice …).
– Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils …) at least once a day.
– A very low consumption of dairy products, apart from fresh cheeses and yogurt, goat or sheep.
– Dried fruits (walnuts, almonds …).
– A little honey to sweeten yogurt and fruit salads.
To this must be added the olive oil, which is the main cooking and seasoning fat, as well as the spices that perfume the dishes.