Fasting in the Cretan diet

The role of keeping a fast

One of the factors that seem to have contributed to  the low consumption of food of animal origin that was observed in Crete during the study of the Seven Countries was the fact that during this period the Cretans kept to the fasts dictated by the Greek Orthodox Church to a great degree (). Thus, the low consumption of red meat and dairy products is not attributed only to economic parameters since, despite the low incomes of the inhabitants, the majority of the population produced their own animal and vegetable products.  During the periods of fasting, however, animal products were stored in order to be used in non fast periods, and this tradition, apart from its contribution to a better state of health, was also important for the ecological and environmental balance.

The days of fasting according to the Orthodox Church are 180-200 per year. Therefore, we are talking about a significant period of time which has contributed to a great degree to the overall food intake.




  • Sarri K, Kafatos A. The Seven Countries Study in Crete: olive oil, Mediterranean diet or fasting? Public Health Nutr. 2005;8(6):666.
  • Sarri KO, Linardakis MK, Bervanaki FN, et al. Greek Orthodox fasting rituals: a hidden characteristic of the Mediterranean diet of Crete. Br J Nutr. 2004;92(2):277-84.
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