The Nordic Diet: Health Benefits and Tips

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The Nordic Diet is another healthful eating pattern, this time based off of the eating patterns of Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Greenland, and Finland. For an overview of the diet, visit the post What is the Nordic Diet?

Let's take a closer look why this eating pattern might be perfect for you.

Health benefits of the Nordic Diet:

Similar to the Mediterranean Diet, research has shown that consuming the Nordic Diet can lead to decreases in cholesterol, insulin, and blood pressure.

Many people also lose weight, even though they were able to eat as much as they wanted in the research studies. The foods in the Nordic Diet are low in unhealthy saturated fat and excellent sources of healthy polyunsaturated fats and fiber.

Because the Nordic Diet emphasizes locally-grown vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, it also helps reduce inflammation. Inflammation is believed to be a primary cause of many chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Several healthy hallmarks of the Nordic Diet include:

  • Regularly eating fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Use of canola oil. Canola oil is high in healthy mono-unsaturated fats and also includes a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • This eating pattern in rich in whole grain breads, crackers, and cereals that are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • And let's not forget all the berries! Berries are excellent sources of antioxidants the help promote good health.

You can include elements of the Nordic Diet in your weekly food choices. Here are some tips:

  • Choose seafood such as salmon, herring, whitefish, or mackerel several times per week. Steam salmon with dark green leafy vegetables or enjoy herring, radishes, and onions on whole grain Wasa bread.
  • Choose fruit for a sweet instead of cookies or candy. 
  • Include local berries in your daily food choices: sprinkle berries on oatmeal for breakfast, or mix berries into plain yogurt for a snack.
  • Include a variety of different types of vegetables in meals: roast Brussels sprouts and parsnips, sauté leafy greens, add vegetables to soups.
  • Choose locally-raised meat or wild game and avoid processed meats.
  • Enjoy whole grains such as whole grain Wasa bread (made with rye, oats and barley), oatmeal (not instant!), or barley instead of white rice. 
  • Whenever possible, choose locally-grown foods to reduce environmental impact, support local farmers, and enjoy the freshest, most flavorful foods.

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC

References:

  1. Adamsson V, Reumark A, Fredriksson IB, Hammarström E, Vessby B, Johansson G, Risérus U. Effects of a healthy Nordic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolaemic subjects: a randomized controlled trial (NORDIET). J Intern Med. 2011 Feb;269(2):150-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02290.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22. PMID: 20964740.
  2. Adamsson V, Reumark A, Cederholm T, Vessby B, Risérus U, Johansson G. What is a healthy Nordic diet? Foods and nutrients in the NORDIET study. Food Nutr Res. 2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.18189. doi:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.18189
  3. American Heart Association. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids  accessed 4-28-21; last reviewed 3-23-17
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