The deceptively barren hills and mountains of Crete, the rocky landscape, thick olive groves, uncultivated plots, even the rugged coastline host a most interesting flora, a unique evolutionary crossbreed of the European, African and Asian flora. Many of the plant species endemic to Crete actually naturalized from other continents centuries ago. In particular, the Cretan flora includes 57 species native of Asia and not found anywhere else in Europe, and 231 species not encountered in mainland Greece(…)
In 1999 the National Centre for Nutrition, of the National School for Public Health, headed by Mrs. Antonia Trichopoulou, in collaboration with the Hellenic Chemistry Laboratory and company RTD of of Food Industry (ETAT.S.A.) conducted a large scale research concerning the nutritional value of a group of 17 different wild herbs which were used in cottage pie recipes. Scientific examination of Cretan pies confirmed the existence of flavonoids, substances of plant origin containing flavone in various combinations (anthoxanthins, apigenins, flavones, quercitins, etc.) and with varying biological activities. These substances are antioxidant and found in fruit and vegetables. Medical research on flavonoids has proven their positive action in preventing cardiovascular diseases and tumour growths. The raw herbs or greens used in Cretan pies are rich in flavonoids while significant amounts are retained even after the pies are cooked. Herbs and greens rich in flavonoids are: the fennel, leek, poppy flower, sorrel and wild carrot.
Some basic points of the Mediterranean diet
1. High ratio of monounsaturates (olive oil) over saturated lipids (butter, lard).
2. Moderate consumption of alcohol (1-2 glasses of red wine / day)
3. High consumption of greens / vegetables.
4. High consumption of cereals (including whole grain bread)
5. High consumption of fruits.
6. High consumption of herbs
From the book HERBS, GREENS, FRUIT by Myrsini Lambraki - whom we thank for letting us publish these excerpts.