Healthy Cretan food is one of the basic reasons for the longevity of the Cretan people. Based in the Minoan Civilization that used to inhabit the island of Crete thousands of years ago, the Cretan diet is becoming more popular every day in Europe and the whole world.
The Cretan diet is the base of the famous Mediterranean diet. Add to this the fresh local produce of Crete (vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fish and meat) and you can easily find out why Cretan food is so good for your health.
Healthy Cretan food: The olive oil
Most people know Crete for its stunning beaches. But inlands there is another land: mountainous, with small traditional villages, and with some of the best olive groves in Europe.
The Cretan olive oil is worldwide known for its distinct taste and quality. This difference in taste has to do with the olive trees, the characteristic climate of the island and the healthy, traditional way the oil is extracted from the olives. In Crete, olive oil production is an art in itself.
The Cretan olive oil, especially the extra virgin olive oil, is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Full of nutrients and “good” fat, it is ideal for both salads and for cooking. The quality of the Cretan olive oil is one of the secrets of the deliciousness of the Cretan cuisine – and of healthy living.
Healthy Cretan food: The Cretan rusks
The Cretan rusks hold a centuries’ old tradition in the Cretan diet. They are prepared as following: First the bread is made, by either barley or wholegrain flour, then they are cut in characteristic pieces, and finally they are double-baked in a traditional oven.
The Cretan rusks in the past were used by the shepherds, who wanted to preserve their bread for days to come. Generation after generation, due to their high nutritional value and their healthiness, they became a basic part of the Cretan diet.
Healthy Cretan food: Seafood and goat meat
One of the secrets of the Cretan diet is the low consumption of red meat. Indeed, one of the healthier ways to get proteins is to eat fish instead of meat.
The Cretan seas are – and always were – full of seafood of excellent quality and nutritional value. The Cretans were historically very close to the sea, and a large part of the locals were either fishermen or maritime traders, so fish and seafood in general were normally a central part of the Cretan cuisine.
Additionally, the land and climate of Crete is ideal to sustain a big population of goats. Goat meat, in contrast to pork meat, for example, is very low in fat, and is also full of nutrients.
There are other healthy Cretan foods, as well: The Cretan “graviera” (the local yellow cheese), the Cretan greens and herbs, the excellent local honey, the known Cretan wine… the list goes on and on.
When visiting Crete, you absolutely have to taste the local food and cuisine, which are considered among the best in the world. Apart from the taste, the Cretan food is as healthy as it can be.