Should you try the Nordic diet?
The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Greenland are often known for their inhabitants’ longer life expectancies. Could it be their diet?
It may be. A review of scientific research studies suggests that the Nordic diet may be associated with lower risks for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and colorectal cancer.
The Nordic diet is based on their traditional ways of eating, using foods sourced from nearby seas, lakes and wild landscapes. It was officially defined by Danish nutritional scientists in a multiyear project to address rising obesity rates in the region and promote a diet that helps protect the environment.
The Nordic diet is more of a lifestyle than just a diet. It embraces relaxing with friends and family and sharing home-cooked meals made from seasonal produce – preferably organic – and other foods sourced locally.
“Adhering to this more back-to-nature diet and lifestyle can be a healthy way to eat for better physical and mental well-being,” said Amanda Stinson, registered dietitian at Aurora Health Care in Grafton, WI. “And by eating what’s fresh and local to you, there’s less food processing, packaging and shipping for less waste, so it’s healthier for the environment, too.”
Similar to the more-famous Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is centered around fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-packed food. A main difference is the Nordic diet emphasizes canola oil instead of olive oil.
So what other foods does the Nordic diet include – and exclude? Stinson gives a breakdown:
- Fruits, especially berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, as well as apples and pears
- Vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and other root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts
- Whole grains, such as foods made with rye, barley and oats
- Fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, cod and haddock
- Plant-based proteins such as nuts, seeds and beans
- Dairy and fats: Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, canola oil, nuts and seeds
- Less meat: When eaten, lower-fat poultry and game like chicken, turkey, lamb, rabbit, pheasant, venison and other wild game
- Beef and other red meats
- Sweetened beverages and other foods with added sugars
- Processed foods and food additives
About the Author
Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.