Get Adobe Flash player
Cretan Quality Label Cretan Quality Label

History of the Cretan Diet

Following the study of Seven Countries, the French researchers Serge Renaud and Michel de Longeril demonstrated by the Lyon Heart Study that the use of a Cretan type of diet in patients with myocardial infarction reduced the death rate by 70% in 27 months after occurrence, compared to the diet which was recommended by the American Heart Association (De Longeril et al. 1993;De Longeril et al. 1994).  Moreover, after 4 years, the Cretan diet was associated with a decline in the death rate of 56% and a decline in the rate of cancer by 61% (De Longeril et al. 1998).


  • Allbaugh, L. G. Crete: A Case Study of an Underdeveloped Area. 1953 Princeton University Press Princeton, NJ.
  • de Lorgeril M, Renaud S, Mamelle N, Set al. Mediterranean alpha-linolenic acid-rich diet in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Lancet. 1994;343:1454-1459.
  • de Lorgeril M, Salen, P, Martin JL, et al. Mediterranean dietary pattern in a randomized trial. Prolonged survival and possible reduced cancer rate. Arch Intern Med. 1998;158:1181-1187.
  • Keys A. Coronary heart disease in seven countries. Circulation. 1970;41(Suppl):1-211.
  • Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ, et al. The diet and 15-year death rate in the seven countries study. Am J Epidemiol. 1986;124(6):903-15.
  • Kromhout D, Keys A, Aravanis C, et al. Food consumption patterns in the 1960s in seven countries. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49(5):889-94.
  • Kromhout D, Menotti A, Bloemberg B, et al. Dietary saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: the Seven Countries Study. Prev Med. 1995 May;24(3):308-15.
  • Menotti A, Keys A, Blackburn H, et al. Twenty-year stroke mortality and prediction in twelve cohorts of the Seven Countries Study. Int J Epidemiol. 1990 Jun;19(2):309-15.
  • Menotti A, Kromhout D, Blackburn H, et al. Food intake patterns and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: cross-cultural correlations in the Seven Countries Study. The Seven Countries Study Research Group. Eur J Epidemiol. 1999;15(6):507-15.
  • Ordovas JM, Corella D. Nutritional genomics. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2004;5:71-118. Review.
  • Willett WC. The Mediterranean diet: science and practice. Public Health Nutr. 2006;9(1A):105-10.
  • Renaud S. Le regime santé. Odile Jacob. Paris. 1998.

Cretan diet or Mediterranean diet?

The traditional diet of people in the Mediterranean was the result of important developments taking place during two millenniums, primarily influenced by the Greeks, the Arabs, the Asians and the Americans (Padilla et al. 2001). Almost 20 countries, with quite a few differences between them, can be characterized as Mediterranean, with their food habits varying due to their religious, economic and cultural particularities.  Thereby, the term “Mediterranean diet” can be a little deceptive, since in reality there are not only one but quite a few Mediterranean diets.

The term “Mediterranean diet”, as used today, was in fact introduced by scientists in the food industry to describe the Cretan diet, as well as other diets in various Mediterranean areas which presented common features with it, during the 1950s and the 1960s, when the impact of World War II had faded and the “fast food culture” had not yet appeared. As olive oil constituted the primary source of edible fat in the Cretan diet, the term “Mediterranean diet” describes in fact the nutritional pattern that prevailed in the Mediterranean areas which had been traditionally cultivated with olive trees (Willett et al. 1995).


  • Padilla M. Evolution of Mediterranean diets:facts, causes, effects in Amado R., Lairon D., Gerber M., Maiani G., Abt. B. (Eds), Bioactive micronutrients in mediterranean diet and health. European Communities. pp263-272. Luxembourg 2001.
  • Willett WC, Sacks F, Trichopoulou A, Trichopoulos D. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 6:1402S-1406S.

Pages: 1 2