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!
Honey and wine, plain or cooked
Wheat and barley are often found on Cretan dishes.
The Cretans kept their traditional diet even after the advent of the Romans, who changed the dietary habits throughout all the Mediterranean.
It is scientifically acknowledged that the Cretan diet is extremely healthy and its benefits are well known all over the world since ancient times.
The food is not just a fuel for the body, but it is a complex mixture of art, creation, taste, identity, flavors, history and tradition. It is local taste that makes the difference between staying at home and a being a foreign traveler. It is from the taste that starts the exploration of a new country.
In Rethymno, nowadays there are many certified restaurants, where you can experience the most authentic Cretan cuisine, “listening to” the smell of food, because Cretan people listen to smells. In this way you will learn the ancient history of Cretan traditions in only one meal!
Cretan diet needs no introduction, neither fun In Rethymno, time stops flowing because we do not want the beautiful to finish. The city of Rethymno offers a wide range of alternatives to experience local taste and nightlife at the same time. Here you can enjoy peace and relax through all your senses, rejuvenating mind, body and spirit.
Special healthy local food, great music, dancing in the moonlight, positive energy and the sunny disposition of the locals make Rethymno the perfect location where you will want to go back again!
Cretan Cuisine and Longevity
Following scientific research and statistical analyses since the 1960s, the Cretan nutrition and diet has been proven to promote health and longevity. In a comparative study of health patterns of the people of several developed countries, which began in 1960 by the scientific and public health communities of 7 Western countries, including the US, 700 Cretan men from the countryside went under long term medical observation. So far this group has had the lowest percentage of deaths caused by heart attacks and various forms of cancer. The study has also shown Cretans to have the highest life expectancy: when, in 1991, 31 years after the launch of the study, the Department of Public Health of the University of Crete conducted a medical checkup of the group, about 50% of the original sample of Cretans were still alive, while among the other 6 participating countries there wasn''t a single survivor, including the rest of Greece! Scientists strongly believe that the cause of these remarkable health patterns is the Cretan diet.
Cretan Olive Oil
Olive trees are the main feature of the island of Crete since ancient times, offering their fruits for centuries. Cretan olive oil is the finest in the world, helpings the Cretans and other Greeks to live longer than any other population in the world.
Types of oil:
Olive oils are graded by production method, acidity content, and flavour, shown on the packaging.
• Extra virgin is the best quality olive oil with a wonderful aroma and flavor. Its acidity may not exceed 1%.
• Virgin olive oil has a pleasant taste and smell, and its acidity must be 2 percent or less.
• Olive oil is a mixture of virgin and refined olive oil. It has a pleasant taste and aroma, a soft yellow color and its acidity may not exceed 2%.