Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-lfgmx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-23T20:57:36.468Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Greek Orthodox fasting rituals: a hidden characteristic of the Mediterranean diet of Crete

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

Katerina O. Sarri*
Affiliation:
Department of Social Medicine, University of CreteSchool of Medicine, PO Box 2208, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece
Manolis K. Linardakis
Affiliation:
Department of Social Medicine, University of CreteSchool of Medicine, PO Box 2208, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece
Frosso N. Bervanaki
Affiliation:
Department of Social Medicine, University of CreteSchool of Medicine, PO Box 2208, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece
Nikolaos E. Tzanakis
Affiliation:
Department of Social Medicine, University of CreteSchool of Medicine, PO Box 2208, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece
Anthony G. Kafatos
Affiliation:
Department of Social Medicine, University of CreteSchool of Medicine, PO Box 2208, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece
*
*Corresponding author: fax +30 2810 394604, email katsarri@med.uoc.gr
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Core share and HTML view are not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

The longevity and excellent health status of the population of Crete has been attributed to its lifestyle and dietary habits. The impact of Greek Orthodox Christian Church fasting on these dietary habits has never been studied. One hundred and twenty Greek Orthodox Christians living in Crete participated in a 1-year prospective study. One half of the subjects, who fasted regularly (fasters), and sixty non-faster controls were followed longitudinally for the three main fasting periods over 1 year; Christmas (40 d), Lent (48 d) and the Assumption (15 d). Pre- and end-holy days measurements were performed in each fasting period including: 24 h dietary recall, blood collection and anthropometric measurements. Based on the 24 h recall, fasters as compared with controls had lower intakes of end-holy days dietary cholesterol, total fat, saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids and protein (P>0·001). Fasters presented a decrease of 753 kJ (180 kcal) in end-holy days energy intake (P>0·05) compared with an increase of 573 kJ (137 kcal) in the controls (P>0·05). Fasters had a decrease in end-holy days Ca intake (P>0·001) and an increase in end-holy days total dietary fibre (P>0·001) and folate (P>0·05), attributed to their higher consumption of fruit and vegetables in end-holy periods (P>0·001). There were no differences for other vitamins or minerals between pre- and end-holy periods in both groups except for vitamin B2. The Orthodox Christian dietary regulations are an important component of the Mediterranean diet of Crete characterised by low levels of dietary saturated fatty acids, high levels of fibre and folate, and a high consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2004

References

Adlouni, A, Ghalim, N,Benslimane, A, Lecerf, JM&Saile, RFasting during Ramadan induces a marked increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and decrease in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol Ann Nutr Metab (1997) 41 242249Google Scholar
Adlouni, A, Ghalim, N, Saile, R, Hda, N, Parra, HJ&Benslimane, ABeneficial effect on serum apo AI, apo B and Lp AI levels of Ramadan fasting Clin Chim Acta (1998) 271 179189Google Scholar
Afifi, ZEDaily practices, study performance and health during the Ramadan fast J R Soc Health (1997) 117 231235Google Scholar
Berrino, F&Muti, PMediterranean diet and cancer Eur J Clin Nutr (1989) 43 4955Google Scholar
Bingham, SA, Gill, C&Welch, AValidation of dietary assessment methods in the UK arm of EPIC using weighed records, and 24-hour urinary nitrogen and potassium and serum vitamin C and carotenoids as biomarkers Int J Epidemiol (1997) 26 S137S151Google Scholar
Chliaoutakis, JE, Darviri, C&Demakakos, PTThe impact of young drivers lifestyle on their road traffic accident risk in greater Athens area Accid Anal Prev (1999) 31 771780Google Scholar
Chliaoutakis, JE, Drakou, I, Gnardellis, C,Galariotou, S, Carra, H&Chliaoutaki, MGreek christian orthodox ecclesiastical lifestyle: could it become a pattern of health-related behavior? Prev Med (2002) 34 428435Google Scholar
Committee on Dietary Allowances, Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride WashingtonDC National Academy Press (2001)Google Scholar
el Ati, J, Beji, C&Danguir, JIncreased fat oxidation during Ramadan fasting in healthy women: an adaptative mechanism for body-weight maintenance Am J Clin Nutr (1995) 62 302307Google Scholar
Famodu, AA, Osilesi, O, Makinde, YO&Osonuga, OABlood pressure and blood lipid levels among vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian native Africans Clin Biochem (1998) 31 545549Google Scholar
Ferro-Luzzi, A, James, WP&Kafatos, AThe high-fat Greek diet: a recipe for all? Eur J Clin Nutr (2002) 56 796809Google Scholar
Finch, GM, Day, JE, Razak Welch, DA&Rogers, PJAppetite changes under free-living conditions during Ramadan fasting Appetite (1998) 31 159170Google Scholar
Food and Nutrition BoardRecommended Dietary Allowances WashingtonDC National Academy Press (1985)Google Scholar
Fraser, GEAssociations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists Am J Clin Nutr (1999 a) 70 532S538SGoogle Scholar
Fraser, GEDiet as primordial prevention in Seventh-Day Adventists Prev Med (1999 b) 29 S18S23Google Scholar
Friedlander, Y, Kark, JD, Kaufmann, NA&Stein, YCoronary heart disease risk factors among religious groupings in a Jewish population sample in Jerusalem Am J Clin Nutr (1985) 42 511521Google Scholar
Frost, G& Pirani, SMeal frequency and nutritional intake during Ramadan: a pilot study Hum Nutr Appl Nutr (1987) 41 4750Google Scholar
James, WP, Duthie, GG&Wahle, KWThe Mediterranean diet: protective or simply non-toxic? Eur J Clin Nutr (1989) 43 3141Google Scholar
Kafatos, A, Kouroumalis, I, Vlachonikolis, I,Theodorou, C,&Labadarios, DCoronary-heart-disease risk-factor status of the Cretan urban population in the 1980s Am J Clin Nutr (1991) 54 591598Google Scholar
Kafatos, A&Mamalakis, GChanging patterns of fat intake in Crete Eur J Clin Nutr (1993) 47Suppl. 1 S21S24Google Scholar
Kafatos, A, Verhagen, H, Moschandreas, J,Apostolaki, I&van Westerop, JJMediterranean diet of Crete: foods and nutrient content J Am Diet Assoc (2000) 100 14871493Google Scholar
Karaagaoglu, N& Yucecan, SSome behavioural changes observed among fasting subjects, their nutritional habits and energy expenditure in Ramadan Int J Food Sci Nutr (2000) 51 125134Google Scholar
Keys, AWine, garlic, and CHD in seven countries Lanceti (1980) 145146Google Scholar
Keys, A, Menotti, A&Menotti, MJThe diet and 15-year death rate in the seven countries study Am J Epidemiol (1986) 124 903915Google Scholar
Knutsen, SF, Fraser, GE, Beeson, WL, Lindsted, KD&Shavlik, DJComparison of adipose tissue fatty acids with dietary fatty acids as measured by 24-hour recall and food frequency questionnaire in Black and White Adventists: the Adventist Health Study Ann Epidemiol (2003) 13 119127Google Scholar
Kromhout, D, Keys, A&Aravanis, CFood consumption patterns in the 1960s in seven countries Am J Clin Nutr (1989) 49 889894Google Scholar
Larsson, CL&Johansson, GKDietary intake and nutritional status of young vegans and omnivores in Sweden Am J Clin Nutr (2002) 76 100106Google Scholar
Maislos, M, Abou-Rabiah, Y, Zuili, IIordash, S,&Shany, SGorging and plasma HDL-cholesterol – the Ramadan model Eur J Clin Nutr (1998) 52 127130Google Scholar
Maislos, M, Khamaysi, N, Assali, A, Abou-Rabiah, Y, Zvili, I&Shany, SMarked increase in plasma high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol after prolonged fasting during Ramadan Am J Clin Nutr (1993) 57 640642Google Scholar
Marjan, ZM, Badari, SAZ&Kandiah, MAssessment of dietary intake among university students: 24-hour recall verses weighed record method Mal J Nutr (1999) 5 1520Google Scholar
Menotti, A, Kromhout, D, Blackburn, H,Fidanza, F,Buzina, R,&Nissinen, AFood 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 507515Google Scholar
Moschandreas, J&Kafatos, AFood and nutrient intakes of Greek (Cretan) adults. Recent data for food-based dietary guidelines in Greece Br J Nutr (1999) 81 Suppl. 2 S71S76Google Scholar
National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Food and Nutrition Board Recommended Dietary Allowances 10th ed WashingtonDC National Academy Press (1989)Google Scholar
Nieman, DC, Underwood, BC, Sherman, KM,Arabatzis, K, Barbosa, JC, Johnson, M&Shultz, TDDietary status of Seventh-Day Adventist vegetarian and non-vegetarian elderly women J Am Diet Assoc (1989) 89 17631769Google Scholar
O'Brien, KO, Abrams, SA, Liang, LK,Ellis, KJ&Gagel, RFIncreased efficiency of calcium absorption during short periods of inadequate calcium intake in girls Am J Clin Nutr (1996) 63 579583Google Scholar
Robinson, F, Hackett, AF, Billington, D&Stratton, GChanging from a mixed to self-selected vegetarian diet – influence on blood lipids J Hum Nutr Diet (2002) 15 323329Google Scholar
Sarri, KO, Tzanakis, NE, Linardakis, MK,Mamalakis, GD,&Kafatos, AG, Effects of Greek orthodox christian church fasting on serum lipids and obesity BMC Public Health (2003) 3 16Google Scholar
Sharma, M, Rao, M, Jacob, S&Jacob, CKValidation of 24-hour dietary recall: a study in hemodialysis patients J Ren Nutr (1998) 8 199202Google Scholar
Simopoulos, APThe Mediterranean diets: what is so special about the diet of Greece? The scientific evidence Nutr (2001) 131 3065S3073SGoogle Scholar
Simopoulos, APThe importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids Biomed Pharmacother (2002) 56 365379Google Scholar
Taha, W, Chin, D, Silverberg, AI,Lashiker, L, Khateeb, N&Anhalt, HReduced spinal bone mineral density in adolescents of an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn Pediatrics (2001) 107 E79Google Scholar
Temizhan, A, Tandogan, I, Donderici, O&Demirbas, BThe effects of Ramadan fasting on blood lipid levels Am J Med (2000) 109 341342Google Scholar
Thane, CW&Bates, CJDietary intakes and nutrient status of vegetarian preschool children from a British national survey J Hum Nutr Diet (2000) 13 149162Google Scholar