Cretan diet: what is it?

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The Cretan diet is a variation of the Mediterranean diet, focusing on the traditional eating habits of the people of Crete. It includes a large number of fruits, vegetables, and fresh legumes, with reduced red meat and animal fats. Olive oil is the main source of fat, and exercise is incorporated into regular social activities. The diet promotes a relaxing lifestyle, careful food preparation, and smaller portions.

The Cretan diet is a diet designed to promote weight loss and increase longevity. It is a variation of the Mediterranean diet and is made up of a large number of fruits, vegetables and fresh legumes such as beans, peas and lentils. Red meat is reduced, as are all other animal fats. Olive oil stands out as the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, along with moderate amounts of nuts.

The Cretan diet differs from the Mediterranean diet in that it focuses on the traditional eating habits of the people of Crete, whereas the Mediterranean diet contains food elements from all Mediterranean countries, including Algeria, Morocco, Italy, and Spain. The island of Crete has incredibly fertile soil, which encourages people to eat locally and seasonally. Until the second half of the 20th century, Cretans only ate meat a few times a year on special occasions. Island produce, including grapes, olives, and citrus, is central to the regimen, as is grilled seafood.

Exercise is also included in the Cretan diet, but the incorporation of exercise into regular social activities is emphasized. Taking walks with friends and walking to and from work or the market is recommended instead of strenuous trips to the gym. Cretans are less likely to suffer from stress-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and depression, and there are fewer cases of obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

An integral part of the Cretan diet is using olive oil as the main source of fat. Mediterraneans tend to eat more fat than their Western counterparts, but because it comes from plant sources, they don’t suffer the same detrimental effects as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Olive oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. It can even help lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” type of cholesterol found in butter and red meat.

Like the Mediterranean diet, the Cretan diet promotes a relaxing lifestyle revolving around eating, including careful food preparation, and slowly enjoying meals with family and friends. Meals consist of a variety of dishes, but in smaller portions than Westerners tend to eat. The sweetener comes from fruit syrups or honey instead of white sugar, and whole grains replace refined grains. Also included in these diets is a moderate amount of red wine, which is rich in antioxidants and is believed to help reduce high blood pressure.

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