The Cretan Diet is, without doubt, one of the treasures of the island.
As tourists soon understand once in Rethymno, local people are very proud of it ; it''s part of their cultural heritage.
Tasting traditional food, buying local products at the market, taking part in the events organized by the Municipality of Rethymno: visitors are offered many opportunities to discover the secrets of this world-famous diet, primarily during the Cretan Diet Festival that takes place every year.
Let''s take a step back. In the 60''s the American scientist Ancel Keys undertook research in 7 countries (Finland, the United States, Holland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Japan and Greece) in order to investigate in which of these countries people had the lowest percentage of cancer and coronary heart diseases.
After 25 years of observation the researchers came to the conclusion that in Crete the percentage of deaths related to these diseases was notably lower compared with the other countries. Moreover Cretan people also had a greater longevity. These facts were attributed to their nutritional habits.
Over the following years other researchers came to the same amazing conclusions.
The Cretan diet has not undergone many changes down the centuries: historically Cretans have eaten only what their rich land produces.
The fertile soil encourages them to eat seasonal, local and healthy food: large amounts of fruits and vegetables, cereals like wheat and barley, legumes like chickpeas, beans and lentils, wild greens gathered in the countryside, nuts, olives and olive oil.
The Cretan diet also includes yoghurt and cheese made with sheep and goats'' milk, fish and seafood, honey, wine and just a small amount of meat.
The value of the Cretan diet emphasises the weakness of the modern western diet which is poor in essential nutrients, full of additional preservatives and additives and contains a large amount of empty calories and fats. All these negatively affect the quality of life and longevity.
In Rethymno tourists from all over the world experience what the Cretan diet is; healthy tasty food.
At home as well as in the restaurant, traditional dishes are made with fresh local ingredients and simply enriched with olive oil, herbs and spices.
Cretan people know how to honour their culinary culture and local products; cooking with love, following traditional recipes and then enjoying food in pleasant company, with no hurry.
That''s another secret of the Cretan diet!