OLIVE OIL IN THE CRETAN DIET: THE STUDY OF THE SEVEN COUNTRIES

Today, the Cretan diet is believed to be the best example of a Mediterranean diet and researchers have discovered that the Cretans have the lowest rate of heart diseases and cancer. The Cretans’ good health is thought to be due to their diet. The largest role in the Cretan diet is played by olive oil.

The surprise felt by travellers when they saw Cretans or inhabitants from other large olive growing areas consuming oil unsparingly is quite justified. These habits were completely different from their own dietary ideas. Animal fat is the norm in the urban communities of central Europe.

THE CONSUMPTION OF OLIVE OIL IN THE CRETAN DIET

The study of the seven countries in the 1950s showed that the consumption of olive oil on Crete was extremely high in comparison to the other areas of the Mediterranean and especially in contrast to the northern countries. In reality, the consumption of fat by the Cretans, the other Mediterranean countries, Holland and the U.S.A. is shown as being 95, 60, 79, and 33 grams per person per day accordingly. On Crete and in the other Mediterranean countries the fat is almost entirely olive oil whereas in the U.S.A., it is other kinds of oils. In Holland, butter and animal fats are the norm. Similar studies by Eurostat, the statistics service of the European Union, show that, in 1996, the consumption of olive oil was at a level of 31 litres annually per person on Crete, 25 litres in the other Mediterranean countries and only 185 grams per person per year in Germany!

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