The Cretan Diet and its health benefits – The most interesting thing during my entire Journey in Italy is the Cretan diet, which is one of the most popular Mediterranean diets and definitely is one of the healthiest diets in the world. It is free from refined and processed ingredients that make nutritionists and scientist praise it to the max. Culinary experts are also in awe of its sheer simplicity and are always incorporating some recipe or the other in their shows or recipe books. Here are the reasons why people of Crete—the largest island of Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea—enjoy a healthy lifestyle:
When it comes to their principal source of fat; olive oil reigns supreme as olives are abundantly found in the Mediterranean region. People of Crete dip their bread in olive oil as if it’s a sauce. They drizzle it generously over their salads, they cook their food in it…you name it and olive oil is in almost every recipe. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that have so many benefits.
It protects against heart disease, prevents strokes, lowers bad cholesterol, has anti-inflammatory properties and keeps the skin in top condition. This is one of the reasons why Cretans live a long life. Imagine having a diet where you can have plenty of oil and bread without feeling guilty.
Cretan breads are not made out of processed flour, where most of the nutrients are stripped off and all you get is blood sugar spiking carbohydrates. The breads used in a Cretan diet are made out of whole wheat, chickpeas or barley flour. These are really healthy for the digestive system and make you feel full as compared to a regular slice of bread.
What do you expect from a nation that lives on an island? Plenty of fish, of course! Fish are extremely healthy for providing your body with omega-3 fatty acids. Fish contain essential minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and magnesium, etc., that help to maintain optimum organ health.
Fruits are a huge part of the Cretan lifestyle. They eat them for breakfast, as a snack and even dessert. Fruits are enriched with vitamins and fiber that help in fighting free radicals; prevent oxidative stress and a healthy digestive system.
Salads are a regular part of their diet. They have leafy greens like spinach and carrots and fresh ripe tomatoes and beetroots in their salads every day.
Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
These three are often tossed together in salads and even as main meals in their diet. They are complex carbs, meaning that they don’t spike up your glucose levels and make you feel full for longer. Therefore, a diet rich in these won’t make you feel hungry and snack on unhealthy things.
Yogurt and Cheese
You will find cheese and/or yogurt as one of the staples in their diet. This provides a healthy dose of calcium and keeps their bones healthy.
You can easily follow the Cretan diet with these simple ingredients and expand your culinary expertise on a different cuisine like this.