For many years Cretan cuisine has been considered one of the healthiest in the world, which is officially recognized by the scientific community. It is rich in dishes consisting of a large amount of vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, as well as olive oil and herbs. There is little red meat and animal fats in it. Does its health properties result from the quality and richness of these products?
Yes, it is definitely a necessary but not sufficient condition. The secret of the Cretan cuisine is to combine these ingredients with olive oil, which occurs in most dishes.
New research recently conducted by the British prove that it is the chemical combination of the properties of olive oil and vegetables that explains the health properties of the Mediterranean diet. The results of their research were presented in the May edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The fact that the researchers place great hopes on this research may be proved by the fact that they were financed by many organizations, including the British Heart Foundation and the Medical Research Council UK.
Unsaturated fat from olive oil reacts with nitrites and nitrates contained in vegetables, and as a result they create a category of beneficial fatty acids of the nitro type. These acids help to lower too high blood pressure by limiting the activity of the enzyme known as epoxy hydrolase. Researchers conducting these studies emphasize that their earlier studies also pointed to this phenomenon.
Researchers conducted experiments on mice that first developed high blood pressure that led to myocardial hypertrophy, and then gave nitro-acids obtained from the Mediterranean diet. The result of the experiment turned out to be very promising because in this group of mice the blood pressure dropped and a reduction in the size of the heart was also observed. The control group, which was mice with genetically modified resistance to hydrolase, did not react to nitro acids. Only "normal" rodents surrendered to their action.
The current results fully confirm the conclusions from many years of research on the Mediterranean diet conducted from 1957 to 2014, which say that this diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and is the most balanced.
According to prof. Philip Eaton from King's College London, the research gives a chance to understand and reduce problems with the blood system. Probably, now is the time to conduct clinical trials on humans, which will be another source of information on the Mediterranean diet.
Link to the PNAS article:
Since 2000, the Institute of Mediterranean Agriculture in Chania has conducted regular research, the main purpose of which is to determine the quality of honey produced in Crete. Currently, the amount of honey examined has been increased to around 500 samples, the vast majority of which comes from Crete.
Before starting any discussion about the quality of oil, it is worth getting acquainted with the classification adopted on the European market. This list includes four basic types: extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive, refined olive oil (pure olive oil), pomace oil.
We have been writing about the health-promoting properties of the Mediterranean diet on our website many times. So far, various types of scientific studies have pointed mainly to the links between the Mediterranean diet and the smaller incidence of specific diseases. However, the results of the research recently published by the Annals of Internal Medicine also show the beneficial effects of this diet on better quality of health after the age of 70.