Nordic Diet
Diets,  Nutrition

Nordic Diet: What is it, Pros and Cons

A Nordic diet gives emphasis on eating produce, fish, and other foods that are common in a Nordic cuisine. It is believed that this diet can help you lose weight and reduce some disease risks.

The Nordic diet is rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, berries, fish, and low-fat dairy products. On the other hand, this diet is low in added sugars, processed foods, and promotes to be easy on the environment instead of eating plans. Generally, Nordic diet is a wholesome way to healthy eating.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that Nordic diet offers plenty of health benefits and may even help in preventing illnesses. It says that the diet helps protect against metabolism syndrome, cholesterol and high blood sugar problems, and minimizes the risk of heart illnesses. It also can help minimize inflammation within fat tissue that is linked to obesity-related health conditions.

Nordic Diet: A Background

Nordic countries, also known as Nordics, refers to a geographical region in Northern Europe and North Atlantic, where they are commonly known as Norden. Nordics include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Several researchers believe that Nordic diet is equivalent to a well-studied known as  Mediterranean diet. Both diets offer anti-inflammatory food properties that are rich in Omega-3 fats from fish. Also, both diets promotes eating plenty of vegetables and fruits.

The difference between the two diets is that while the Mediterranean diet observes traditional ways of eating in the Mediterranean region, the Nordic diet is created to improve public health by a group of experts like chefs and nutritionists. Hence, while they both diets feature their regional foods, they are chosen for their healthfulness and environmental sustainability.  Some traditional foods are excluded from these diets.

Mediterranean diet is inspired by the Greek, Italiam, and Spanished-derived meals that focus on high consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, legumes, olive oil, fish and dairy but with rare serving of meat. Although Nordic diet is closely identical with Mediterranean diet, it replaces olive oil with canola oil from rapeseed flower that grows across the Northern European countries.

Nordic diet: How it works

The New Nordic diet focuses on whole, seasonal, fresh, and local foods. It does not encourage eating heavily-processed foods. With this diet, you have to remove from your diet added sugars, packaged foods, and fatty red meats. Instead, it encourages choosing locally-caught fish, locally-produced dairy products, and seasonal produce. 

Nordic Diet: What to Eat, What Not to Eat

Whole Grains

A 25% of Nordic diet’s calories should come from whole grains like oats, barley, and rye. It also encourages brown rice, whole grain pasta, and a lot of whole grain bread. Cereal may be allowed on Nordic diet as long as it does not contain any added sugar or even honey.

Vegetables, Fruits, and Berries

Nordic diet encourages at least 1 cup of fruit and a cup of vegetable everyday, preferably seasonal, organic, and grown locally. This diet should be rich in berries. This means that dieters should plan to eat at least 2 cups of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or traditional lingonberries everyday. Berries are known to be low in calories but rich in vitamins and minerals. They have healthful phytochemicals, especially those that are red and blue colors.

Dairy Products

The New Nordic diet includes consuming low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt but it does not promote sweetened milk beverages and sugary yogurt products. Have at least 2 servings every day.

Fish

The diet includes eating of fatty ocean fish such as salmon, mackerel, or herring twice every week (or even more) and one meal made with low-fat fish like haddock or cod.

Fats

This is fairly low-fat diet but it encourages some rapeseed oil, which is canola oil in North America, with trans-fat free margarine made with soybean oil. It also This diet also includes unsalted nuts and seeds.

Meat

Poultry and game meats are allowed in Nordic diet, as long as meat cuts are low in fat. Opt for turkey, chicken, and lean cuts of lamb and venison but avoid other red meats like beef.

Added Sugars

It’s a no-no to foods with added sugar and sweetened beverages. It encourages one serving of fruit or berry juice every day, but preferably water, tea, coffee, and low-fat milk.

Processed Foods

As much as possible, avoid processed foods because they have added sugar, fat, salt, and these foods are not local- or environmentally-friendly.

Nordic Diet Tips

There are no specific guidelines on following Nordic diet when to eat. Those who initiated this diet recommend eating mindfully and communally. They encourage sharing of meals with friends and family, and sitting at the table rather than eating on the go.

Those who want to follow this diet do not need to fill your kitchen with Scandinavian foods. Just have your favorite vegetables and fruits with plenty of berries, whole grains, and fish. Opt for canola oil and low-fat dairy products and you are fine.

Nordic diet is flexible that it allows other dietary needs like vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free diet plans. 

If you are pregnant or have little kids who eat fish, watch out for the mercury levels in the fish that you are eating and serving.

Pros

On Nutrition

Nordic diet offers plenty of nutrients just like the Mediterranean diet. Whole grains, veggies and fruits provide us with loads of nutrients with less calories. Those colorful berries bring us antioxidants, while fish gives omega-3 fatty acids. This shows that all the key food groups are represented. The diet highlights that whole foods are healthier than the processed ones.

On Health Benefits

There were two studies that were conducted. One study lasted for 12 weeks, while the other one lasted for 6 months. Both showed that Nordic diet can reduce blood pressure compared to an “average” diet. Another study was conducted that analyzed a big group of patients over a long period and it claimed that Nordic diet help prevent strokes. And a study also showed that this new diet help lower risks of heart attacks.

On Environmental Concerns

When the initiators of Nordic diet created this plan, they were trying to help address the increasing rates of obesity in Nordic countries. At the same time, they also wanted to encourage a diet that is environmental-friendly.

On Sustainability of the Diet

It offers a better lifestyle for those who follow the diet. It utilizes familiar, locally-grown foods. The diet is not very restrictive without measurements and calculations. Just stay with the recommended foods and eat the other foods sparingly. If you are considering this diet to lose weight, be careful about your calorie intake and portion sizes.

If you are not a lover of fish, or your community does not have locally-caught seafood, this diet may not be the right option for you.

Cons

Nordic diet is somehow expensive. Fish and organic produce can be costly if you are in a place where seafood is abound, or if there are lots of organic farms. This is because these ingredients are costly compared to traditionally-farmed produce and cheaper cuts of meat.

It’s time consuming. Looking for and preparing these foods will take your time. Since processed foods are not allowed, this means that your foods should be prepared at home. Also, those who created this diet intended for each meal to be eaten in a leisurely and mindful manner.

USDA Take

USDA encourages Americans to consume a balanced combination of grains, protein, veggies, fruits, and dairy products every day. And the Nordic diet includes all the recommended, reasonable proportions of each food.

Nordic diet supports a culture of healthy meals and mindful eating with others
image: WebMD

Is Nordic diet a better choice for a healthier body and weight? Should you try it?

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