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Cretan Olive Oil – The Key to Longevity!!

This past fall (2017) my wife Nola and I were privileged to visit the Greek Islands where we enjoyed their beautiful weather, water, beaches and food. The last week we spent on the island of Crete where we were surprised by the abundance of olive groves populating the rocky, craggy Cretan terrain. Their food was amazing – always fresh, local and very reasonably priced.
A gentleman we met there told us about attending an Olive Oil Conference in South Africa a short time before. The keynote speaker at this conference was from California and spoke specifically about the health benefits of Cretan Olive oil.
She gave impressive statistics about the reduced incidence of heart disease, cancers and dementia in Crete. In further research, I have discovered that the famous Mediterranean Diet (see article below) authors discovered in their research dating back to 1952 that Cretans had the lowest mortality rate in the whole world, largely in part to their consumption of local olive oil.
He told us that the average Cretan consumes 26 liters of olive oil per year. It was also interesting to note that cows and dairy have never been a large part of the Cretan diet since there are no cows on Crete – goat milk only, therefore olive oil has replaced butter and we witnessed first hand how they use olive oil on everything!!
We can all learn a lesson here, increase our olive oil consumption, buy Cretan olive oil when possible and live longer healthier lives!
The population of the Greek Island of Crete has been termed as the longest living and healthiest people in the world, thanks to their diet which has been scientifically identified as the healthiest eating regime in the world.

The term Mediterranean diet was invented by the physiologist Dr. Ancel Keys, who in 1952 conducted a comparative population study (7 countries study, Minnesota University, 1970) in 7 different countries (Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Finland, Japan, The Netherlands, USA).

Dr. Keys discovered that heart disease and cancer-related mortality was lower in all Mediterranean countries in comparison to the rest of the world. He also discovered that the Greek island of Crete had the lowest mortality rate of the entire study, specifically heart disease-related mortality. Even today, Crete is often the subject of specialized research in the context of nutritional studies.

The comparison of populations in these countries was based on the same living standards, same level of environmental pollution and stress, and Dr. Ancel Keys came to the conclusion that the only factor differentiating these populations was their nutritional habits and diet and more specifically the type and quality of oil consumed.
On-going monitoring over the years shows not only that the Cretan group has succumbed to the lowest percentage of deaths caused by heart attacks and blood-related diseases including diabetes, but it is also the most immune group to various types of cancer. Furthermore it is the longest living, as the researchers found out for themselves in 1991 with just over 50% of the original Cretan group found to still be alive as opposed to 0% in the Finnish group!

Recent scientific studies consider the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest and most integrated diets on an international level: rich in fruit, vegetables, bread, cereals, grain and legumes. There is ample fresh extra virgin olive oil on dishes and salads, whilst diary, fish and poultry foods are consumed in medium portions. Wine is also to be consumed in low to moderate amounts whilst red meat consumption is strictly limited to twice monthly. In other words, a diet low in fat and cholesterol, rich in antioxidants and  monounsaturated fats (thanks to the extra virgin olive oil), and rich in carbohydrates and fibers.

Furthermore in 1993 and 1995, the International Conference on Mediterranean Diets officially established the MEDITERRANEAN DIET PYRAMID which is a cultural model for healthy eating that reflects Mediterranean dietary traditions historically associated with good health. The pyramid is primarily based on the long-standing food patterns of Crete.

More recently in 2010 and in recognition of its important contribution to good health, UNESCO decided to include the Mediterranean diet into its List of ‘INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGES OF HUMANITY’.

In doing so it officially recognized the Mediterranean diet as a nutritional model that has remained constant over time whilst helping humanity to maintain its diversity in the face of globalization.

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