Calcium, nutrient and food intake of Greek Orthodox Christian monks during a fasting and non-fasting week

Angeliki Papadaki, Constantine Vardavas, Christos Hatzis, Anthony Kafatos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:
To assess the Ca, nutrient and food intake of Greek Orthodox Christian monks during a vegetarian-type fasting week, compared with their normal diet.
DESIGN:
Dietary data collection (using 7 d weighed food records), anthropometric and blood pressure measurements, as well as serum glucose and lipid analyses, were performed during Palm Sunday week (fasting) and the week following Pentecost Sunday (non-fasting). Mean daily nutrient and food (g/d) intakes were calculated from the food records.
SETTING:
The study took place in two monasteries in the Municipality of Heraklion, Crete.
SUBJECTS:
The study involved ten healthy monks aged 25-65 years, with BMI > 30 kg/m2, who had been performing fasts for the last 24.4 (SD 10.4) years and lived in monasteries in Crete during April-June 2005.
RESULTS:
Nutrient and food intake profiles were more favourable during the fasting week, when participants had lower intakes of total and saturated fat and trans-fatty acids, and higher intakes of dietary fibre, Fe, folate, legumes and fish/seafood. Ca intake was lower when participants fasted, whereas consumption of dairy products, meat and eggs increased significantly in the non-fasting week. Systolic blood pressure was significantly higher, whereas blood lipid levels were more favourable during the fasting week.
CONCLUSIONS:
The periodic vegetarianism recommended by the Greek Orthodox Church contributes to the favourable profiles of several biomarkers of health among this sample of monks. The fasting rituals described are an important component of the traditional diet of Crete and should be emphasised in nutrition education programmes promoting this Mediterranean eating pattern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-9
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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