The role of extra virgin olive oil in the Cretan diet

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the foundations of the Cretan diet. It is the main source of fat in the traditional cuisine of Crete. And, by far, it is the healthiest source of fat you can eat.

It does not have to do only with the Cretan diet, though. Olive oil is a product that is inextricably linked with the island of Crete throughout history. And these links go far back in time, up to thousands of years BC, in the times of the Minoans.

So let’s see together some of the unique characteristics of the extra virgin olive oil, and some of the great health benefits of olive oil which classify it as a foundation of the Cretan diet.

Extra virgin olive oil: the cornerstone of the Cretan diet

The Cretans know, perhaps more than any other place in the world, the great health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. Nowadays, as the traditional Cretan diet is coming back to focus in the everyday life not only of the Cretan family, but also of countless families across the world, the extra virgin olive oil is the most precious product of a household that cares for healthy eating- and for good reason.

The difference is in the way the extra virgin olive oil is produced from the olives, using mechanical means only and no chemicals or other additives. This way, the olive oil is more natural and healthy, and its acidity is lower, giving it a smoother taste. The natural way the Cretan extra virgin olive oil is produced, fits perfectly the traditional, healthy nature of the Cretan diet.

The characteristic taste of extra virgin olive oil, with its fruity taste of fresh olives, is very pleasant and hard to forget. And, as the older Cretans will tell you, it’s better to consume extra virgin olive oil in a period of two years after it was produced. Although olive oil as a food can last and be edible for years to come, the special taste of the extra virgin olive oil generally lasts up to two years after its production.

The Cretan diet and the health benefits of the Cretan olive oil

As noted in the introduction, the olive oil is the main source of “good” fat in the Cretan diet. But what we mean with “good” fat?

The main ingredient of olive oil (about 75% of its weight) is monounsaturated fat, which is the healthy fat for the human body. This is the kind of fat that gets in the metabolism, and does not accumulate in the veins to create health problems. A characteristic fact is that you can safely use olive oil to fry food more than once – something that is not recommended for other sources of fat, like butter or lower quality seed oils.

Olive oil, and especially extra virgin oil, also contains other types of “good” fat, like Omega-6 and Omega-3, which are foundational for a healthy diet, especially in our era of factory-produced food. Generally, olive oil is of paramount importance for everyone of us who cares about healthy living, as it is truly a “breath of fresh air” for our body, especially in a time where processed food is the norm.

But the health benefits of olive oil doesn’t stop here: Olive oil also contains big quantities of Vitamin E and Vitamin K. The extra virgin olive oil -which is recommended for followers of the Cretan diet – also contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances, and research has shown that it even has anti-cancer qualities.

We could go on and on to long details for the many health benefits of the olive oil and the Cretan diet in general. But the point is that, if you want to follow closely the traditional Cretan diet and unlock all of its great benefits for your body and your health, extra virgin olive oil is the most basic ingredient of this diet.

And last, but not least, if you want to let your body feast on “real”, nutritious food, Psaroudakis extra virgin olive oil, produced according to our family tradition of the Cretan diet, is perfect for you and your health.