1. Olive Oil

Liquid gold olive oil

Athena the Goddess of Wisdom according to Greek Mythology planted the very first olive tree on the sacred rock of the Acropolis. The state and city of Athens got its name from this Ancient Greek Goddess. Athens as a city also enjoyed the benefits concerning the social and economical aspect of the cultivation of the olive tree. The olive tree since then has symbolized peace, light, Victory crowning athletes during the Olympic games and finally a symbol of wisdom.

The truth of the matter is though that the first olive trees ever cultivated in European soil are the ones of Crete, during the Neolithic and Bronze age era.

The liquid gold as its often referred to in Crete was cultivated first round 3500.B.C.

The cultivation of the olive tree not only was part of the every day Minoan diet, base of perfume, oil lamps, preserving food, medicine, body rub, witchcraft, soap, religious ceremonies, care of the dead and finally generated trading with the Levant and Middle East.

Today olive oil still plays a key role in Orthodox Greek Christian religion, as it is used in the baptismal font,the baptized child and in the oil lamps of our churches.

The oldest largest olive field of the Eastern Mediterranean is found here in Crete, Crete has more olive trees that the population of Greece.

Some of the oldest olive trees in the world are found in Crete.

In 2004 during the Olympic games held in Athens an olive branch from the oldest olive tree(4000 year old tree)of Crete was sent initiating the beginning of the Olympic games!

This shallow rooted tree with its gnarled tree trunk has stood side by side with the earthbound people of this island through all out their history, their hardships, their victories, their grief their hopes like a silent witness.

The Cretan diet famous for its attributes is based on olive oil, in fact the Mediterranean diet is the Cretan diet!

The liquid gold that brings together whole families and villages during autumn and winter harvest has many varieties depending on the type of tree, time of harvest, type of pressing.

Like wine olive oil varies and dresses our food accordingly.

You can experience the variety, flavors, types of olive oil and olives of Crete all you have to do is join WeGuide and the history of this fruit and its characteristics shall be enjoyed, did you know that you can find in Crete olive oil mixed with spices?

Olive oil mixed with herbs?
Olive oil mixed with citrus blossoms?
Did you know that different dishes, salads styles of cooking involve types of olive oil?

The people of Crete have been cultivating, cooking and enjoying olive oil for more than 5000 years!
Weguide, enlightens you through our designed tours to get to know and fully appreciate the liquid gold of Crete.

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil include treatment for colon, breast cancer, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, high cholesterol, weight loss, metabolism, digestion, aging and cancer. It has been used by mankind for many centuries. It is a staple ingredient for many culinary preparations and also serves a variety of medicinal purposes. Medical studies suggest that it is loaded with health benefits.

It helps in lowering of the bad cholesterol level in our blood, as it is rich in monounsaturated fats. The extra virgin olive oil variety contains the highest level of antioxidant polyphenols and oleic acid. It is thus a healthy option compared to other vegetable oils.

But, it also has lots of calories, so it should be used in moderate amounts for the best health results. The Food and Drug Administration recommends 2 tablespoons every day to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Important Sources: Olive oil, as we all know, is an essential fruit oil, which we get from the olive tree crop found mainly in the Mediterranean regions. It is utilized for cooking purposes, developing cosmetic products and soaps, for medicinal purposes, and as pharmaceutical supplements. It can also be used as fuel and for lighting lamps.

Various types include the following:

Virgin Olive Oil: This variety is used for cooking with a lower acid content.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is a much better variety and is made by cold pressing the olive fruit.
Pure Olive Oil: This type is a combination of refined and virgin oils. It contains a highly acidic content.
Lampante Oil: It is used as a fuel and is not recommended for cooking purposes.

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

It has numerous beneficial qualities. Apart from being a good cooking aid, it is also known to have unique medicinal qualities. Some of them are as follows:
Reduce Heart Problems: Natural olive oil contains 70% monounsaturated fatty acid. As a result, it lowers cholesterol accumulation in the blood and reduces heart problems. It reduces the LDL, while at the same time increasing the HDL levels. The website of Montelcastelli Solutions Ltd. provides a table comparing the fatty acid composition of different types of oils.
Blood Cholesterol: LDL cholesterol is the bad type of cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attacks and pulmonary heart disease. Extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in almost 40 antioxidant chemicals, helps reduce the oxidation effects of LDL cholesterol.
Weight Loss: Medical experts suggest that it is very difficult to gain weight from the mono-unsaturated fats present in olive oil. Experiments involving Mediterranean olive oil have shown positive results in regards to a reduction in human body weight.
Metabolism: Olive oil boosts the metabolism, the growth of good bone structure, and brain development in children. It is an excellent source of vitamin E, which is very beneficial for older people.
Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Properties: The phenols present in olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties. The antimicrobial characteristics of the oil are a result of its strong aroma.
Digestion: Olive oil is known to aid in the digestive process. It is used as a medicinal oil to clean the digestive tract and to improve bowel movements.
Aging Process: Rich in antioxidants, olive oil slows the natural aging process of the human body. Used in cosmetic products and natural herbal therapy, it does wonders for the skin, which gets a natural shine and glow from the enriching oil.
Prevention of Gall Stones: This oil is also effective in preventing gall stones.
Healthy Cell Walls: Olive oil contains polyphenol which helps in stronger cell walls. It also increases the elasticity of arterial walls, protecting against various heart conditions.
Cancer: Olive oil is said to protect the human body against cancerous growth, especially bowel cancer. Medical research done at the prestigious Oxford University has shown positive signs that the acidic content of this oil can prevent the commencement of rectum and bowel cancer. In the UK, bowel cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer, and kills almost twenty thousand citizens every year.
Breast cancer: Recent research study suggests that hydroxytyrosol, a major component of olive oil may help prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Hypertension: Recent research study suggests that Mediterranean diet comprising of food rich in unsaturated fats (found in olive oil and nuts) and nitrite and nitrate (found in leafy green vegetables) may help protect you from hypertension.

There are several grades of olive oil, according to the flavor, aroma, acidic value and color. Readers are advised to buy authentic oil with proper evaluation for cooking or medicinal purposes.

Grades Of Olive Oil
When you go in the market, you find different types of olive oils. What does extra virgin olive oil mean? What does US Fancy olive oil mean? There are two main types of gradations that you will find, IOOC standards and US standards.
IOOC Standards
The International Olive Oil Council ( IOOC) has released the Trade Standard Applying to Olive Oils and Olive-Pomace Oils. The council has provided descriptions for different types of oils; some of these descriptions are given below:
Virgin Olive Oil: It is the oil that is prepared from purely mechanical and physical means. There is no alteration to the oil after processing. Edible virgin oil has a free acidity of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams. No food additives are permitted in this oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is a type of edible oil, which has a free acidity content of no more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams. No additives are permitted in this oil.
Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil: This has a free acidity content of no more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams. This oil does not contain any additives.
Lampnate Virgin Olive Oil: This oil is not fit for human consumption. It has a free acidity content of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams. It is used for refining and technical purposes.
Refined Olive Oil: It is the refined form of virgin olive oil. It has a free acidity content of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams.
Olive Oil: This is a blend of refined and edible virgin olive oil. It has a fatty acid content of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams.

US Standards

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the United States Standards for Grades of Olive Oil in 1948. These standards are still followed in the US and this has, to some extent, caused problems for consumers in purchasing the right kind of olive oil.

The USDA grades olive oil in the following four categories:
US Grade A or US Fancy
US Grade B or US Choice
US Grade C or US Standard
US Grade D or Substandard

The grading is done based on free fatty acid content (calculated as oleic acid according to the Official and Tentative Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists), absence of defects, (degree of freedom from cloudiness at 60 degrees F), odor (typical olive oil odor and its variation to off-odors) and flavor (typical olive oil flavor and its variation to off-flavors). It has given a 100 point score sheet for olive oil in which free fatty acid content, absence of defects, odor, and flavor have weights of 30, 30, 20 and 20 respectively.
Fancy: US Fancy refers to olive oil that has a fatty acid content of no more than 1.4 percent (27-30 points). It should be entirely free from any defects (27-30 points). It should have good typical olive oil odor (18-20 points). It should have good typical olive oil flavor (18-20 points). Finally, it should have a total score of no less than 90 points.
Choice: US Choice refers to olive oil that has a fatty acid content of more than 1.4 percent but not more than 2.5 percent (24-26 points). It should be reasonably free from any defect (24-26 points). It should have a reasonably typical olive oil odor (16-17 points). It should also have a reasonably good olive oil flavor (16-17 points). It should have a score of no less than 80 points.
Standard: US Standard refers to olive oil that has a fatty acid content of more than 2.5 percent but less than 3.0 percent (21-23 points). It should be fairly free from any defect (21-23 points). It should have fairly good typical olive oil odor (14-15 points). It should have fairly good typical olive oil flavor (14-15 points). It should have a score of no less than 70 points.
Substandard: Substandard refers to olive oil that has free fatty acid content of more than 3.0 percent (0-20 points). It has more defects than what is present in the US Standard type of oil (0-20 points). It fails to have even a fairly good typical olive oil odor (0-13 points). It fails to have a fairly good typical olive oil flavor (0-13 points). It has less than 70 total points.

References: Oxford University and Food and Drug Administration

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2. Honey

The honey of Crete.
Crete the land of milk and honey, the birthplace of Zeus king and father of the ancient Greek Gods.
The people of the island of Crete have domesticated the bee as far back as the Bronze age period successfully.
Melissa the bee in the Greek language, the name of a nymph, as well as the name of one of the Kourites (Melissos) guardian of baby Zeus and founder of the ancient city of Eleftherna.
In mythology the ancient Greek Gods enjoyed honey, ambrosia and nectar, the first bee keeper in Hellenic Mythology was Aristaios son of Apollo and Kyrini.
Aristaios became immortal as Hours and mother earth nourished him with Ambrosia.
We see here that ancient Greeks understood very well the healing powers of honey..
In the Greek language Melissa-Melina-(she who brings the honey) is a name still given to women til this day. Today the bees that we find domesticated are of the Apis mellifica species.
The Cretan honey is renown for its quality its aroma and taste.
Bee hives are found through all out the island from Spring through summer until autumn the bees thrive, wild flowers herbs, chestnut, pine trees and citrus blossoms are a bees paradise!
The Thyme honey is a category on its own alone its aroma and flavor is rich.
The Sfakian Honey as well as the Lasithi Honey is famous for its quality.
For centuries honey was the only sweetener in cooking in Greece until sugar was introduced, nearly all sweets, breakfast in Crete involves some variety of honey.
Pollen is also used not only for its substance rich in proteins and therapeutic elements is given to children and elderly on a daily bases.
Propolis the resin collected by bees with its antibiotic attributes used in traditional medicine or remedies.
Aristotle wrote about the bees and honey stating that the hard working bee holds a key to the balance of the Cosmos.
The people of the island of Crete that have very strong earthbound characters understand, watch and learn from nature, one of the favorite gifts a Cretan can offer or receive is good Honey.
Honey with nuts and sheep’s yogurt is a sweet offered to guests and newlyweds!
Phillo pastry with honey and nuts a tiny popular sweet enjoyed through all out Crete. In Crete honey is understood tasted and enjoyed as much as good wine.
The color,the aroma,the texture,the sweetness and how it might enhance types of cheese, bread or traditional dishes …
WeGuide takes you the land of milk and honey Crete, taste the honey of the Gods with us!

Health Benefits of Honey
Its benefits include the following treatments, taken from both traditional and modern medical experts.
Sweetener: It can be used as a substitute for sugar in many food and drinks. It contains about 69% glucose and fructose, enabling it to be used as a sweetener that is better for your overall health than normal white sugar.
Weight Loss: Though it has more calories than sugar when honey is consumed with warm water, it helps in digesting the fat stored in your body. Similarly, honey with lemon juice or cinnamon help in reducing weight.
Energy Source: According to the USDA, honey contains about 64 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, it is used by many people as a source of energy. On the other hand, one tablespoon of sugar will give you about 15 calories. Furthermore, the carbohydrates in it can be easily converted into glucose by even the most sensitive stomachs, since it is very easy for the body to digest this pure, natural substance.
Improving Athletic Performance: Recent research has shown that honey is an excellent ergogenic aid and helps in boosting the performance of athletes. It is a great way to maintain blood sugar levels, muscle recuperation, and glycogen restoration after a workout, as well as regulating the amount of insulin in the body, as well as energy expenditure.
Source of Vitamins and Minerals: It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. The type of vitamins and minerals and their quantity depends on the type of flowers used for apiculture. Commonly, honey contains Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. If you check the vitamin and mineral content in regular sugar from any other source, you will find it to be completely absent or insignificant.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties: It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicines.
Antioxidants: It contains nutraceuticals, which are very effective for the removal of free radicals from the body. As a result, our body immunity is improved against many conditions, even potentially fatal ones like cancer or heart disease.
Skin Care with Milk and Honey: Milk and honey are often served together, since both of these ingredients help in creating smooth, beautiful skin. Consuming this combination every morning is a common practice in many countries for this very reason.
Honey in Wound Management: Significant research is being carried out to study its benefits in the treatment of wounds and the Nursing Standard explains some of these benefits in wound management in the document. These have been listed below:
Honey possesses antimicrobial properties.
It helps in promoting autolytic debridement.
It deodorizes malodorous wounds.
It speeds up the healing process by stimulating wound tissues.
It helps in initiating the healing process in dormant wounds.
It also helps in promoting moist wound healing.
These healing powers are not overstated. The Waikato Honey Research Unit provides details about the world-wide research that is being carried out on the benefits of honey in medicine. Furthermore, BBC reported in July of 2006 that doctors at the Christie Hospital in Didsbury, Manchester are planning to use honey for faster recovery of cancer patients after surgery. Such research will provide scientific evidence for the so-called “beliefs” held by honey lovers all over the world and will help in propagating the benefits to more people.
Now that you know the benefits of honey, how do you eat it? You can eat it raw, add it to water or different beverages and you can also add it to several recipes.

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@WeGuide.gr Tour : HERAKLION CITY – TASTING AND WALKING TOUR . Be a Local for a day. Be a Cretan for a day !!!

3. Wine

Did you know that Crete is one of the ancient wine producers of this world?
Remnants of grape seeds have been found in vessels dating back to the Early Bronze age.
Wine constitutes along with meat, bread the fundamental part of the very well known food trilogy of the Homeric banquets and meals.
Crete lies beyond the wine dark sea…Homer wrote.
From vine-cultivators to ​vintagers, grape traders the links in the chain of the Minoan and Aegean wine production.
Grapes have been utilized in Crete by 5000 B.C. according to Archeological finds.
Today the only wine in the world known to contain Resin is the Greek wine retsina, also found in Crete. Light yellow variety or red.
The resin of the native pines is added today in the beginning of the fermentation, just like it was done thousands of years ago.
The ancient mixed wine with water not only raisin, something practiced in the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean.

Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae suggests that the ancients put water in their mixing bowl first, Akratos meaning not mixed wine and pure Nile water.
But wine was also used to wash the wounds of Homeric heroes and warriors as an antiseptic .Dionysus Zagreos found on linear B tablets at the palace of Nestor at Pylos,was also known as Hygiatis he who gives health.
It seems the ancient understood that mixing wine with water had healing properties,we today know it kills bacteria such as E coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus.
Cholera and typhoid bacteria are killed when exposed to dry red wine!
But the most universally acclaimed and prized wine in Greek antiquity was the Pramnian,the cup of Nestor in the Iliad as well as the wine of Circe in the Odyssey given to the men of Ulysses .
This sweet wine from a grape cluster dried in the sun or having been scorched and bruised on the vine branches is the Kritikos wine (the Cretan wine or Pramnian)
The wine of Crete was enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians,ancient Greeks,Romans,European Christians and even the Muslim Ottomans!
Wine centers from antiquity still in use today are to the south of Knossos Archanes, Peza, Malevizi, Mesara, Casteli, Amari and Lousakies etc.
The Cretan wine is a pedigree, Crete is the most important vinicultural district of Greece.
Its geographical situation and particular soil conditions make the Cretan wine exceptional.
In 1976 phylloxera damaged a large part of the viniculture of Crete.
The island has many vinicultural cooperatives, you can taste here local ancient varieties as well as French that sometimes as we say can also marry a Cretan variety .
You see for us wine slips through our lips and reaches our soul, just like Dionysus in ancient times, just like Holly communion today, for we say in Crete after sharing a glass of wine with someone we forge a promise of hospitality and friendship!
Let us guide you to the Wines of Crete!
WeGuide you to wineries, taste experience, see enjoy the Wines of Crete!
Taste the wine of Crete, taste Dionysus, taste the wine that was enjoyed by Egyptian Pharaohs,Homeric Gods and heroes, Roman generals, Christians of East and West the wine that allured Ottomans …the wine that either remained Minoan or bedded the French vines.
For this island a continent has a long tale to say and good wine is needed always when a good long story is told.
For Crete has many stories and as many vine and grape varieties for you to enjoy.
WeGuide takes you to the Wines of King Minos, the Wine enjoyed by Ramses, the Wine of Homer, the Wine of Biblical times, the wine of Tiberius, the Malmsey wine, the Marouvas wine…the Cretan Vines. Weguide you through the wine routs of Crete you will have the opportunity to taste the history of the Eastern Mediterranean up to present day.
WeGuide Stin Ygia mas (cheers to our health, the healing Dionysus)
For this sacred spirit, the wine of Crete is the light, the sun the earth bottled and enjoyed…

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@WeGuide.gr Tour : HERAKLION CITY – TASTING AND WALKING TOUR . Be a Local for a day. Be a Cretan for a day !!!

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