Should You Try the Nordic Diet?

Norway and the Nordic Diet
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The Nordic diet is loaded with whole-grains, berries, fruits, vegetables, fish, and low-fat dairy products. It’s also low in added sugars and processed foods. In general, it's a very wholesome way to eat.

Some researchers believe the Nordic diet is on par with the well-studied Mediterranean diet. Both feature anti-inflammatory foods that are high in omega-3 fats from fish, and both include lots of fruits and vegetables.

The Nordic diet also has lots of berries, which are low in calories, and rich in vitamins and minerals. They also contain beneficial phytochemicals, mostly in the colorful blue and red pigments.

The Nordic diet isn’t difficult to follow as long as you can give up the extra sugar and cut back on fatty red meats. Think more along the lines of whole, fresh foods and a lot less heavily processed foods (which is a good idea in any case).

An Overview of the Nordic Diet

Whole grains. At least 25 percent of the Nordic diet's calories come from whole grain products such as rye, barley, and oats. The diet also includes brown rice, whole grain pasta, and plenty of whole grain bread. Cereal is allowed on the Nordic diet too, as long as it didn’t have any added sugar or honey.

Fruits, vegetables, and berries. The Nordic diet includes at least one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables each day. It's especially rich in berries -- more than two cups per day of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or the traditional lingonberries.

Fats. The Nordic diet is fairly low in fat but includes some rapeseed oil (we’d use Canola oil in North America), plus trans-fat free margarine made with soybean oil. Unsalted nuts and seeds are also consumed.

Dairy products. Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are included in the diet, but sweetened milk drinks and sugary yogurt products are not on the menu.

Consume at least two servings per day.

Fish. Eat fatty ocean fish like salmon, herring or tuna, twice each week (or more), plus eat one meal made with low-fat fish.

Meats. Poultry and game meats are allowed, as long as you choose cuts of meat that are low in fat. Choose chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of lamb and venison.

Beverages. No sugary drinks. One serving of fruit or berry juice is okay. Stick with water, coffee, tea and low-fat milk.

Scandinavian Recipes

You don’t need to stock your kitchen with Scandinavian fare to enjoy a Nordic style diet — just stock up the fruits and vegetables you already love and add lots of berries, fish, and whole grains. Switch to Canola oil and low-fat dairy products and you’re all set.

Sources

Akesson A, Andersen LF, Kristjánsdóttir AG, Roos E, Trolle E, Voutilainen E, Wirfält E. "Health effects associated with foods characteristic of the Nordic diet: a systematic literature review." Food Nutr Res. 2013 Oct 9;57. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v68/n1/full/ejcn2013192a.html.

Brader L, Uusitupa M, Dragsted LO, Hermansen K. "Effects of an Isocaloric Healthy Nordic Diet on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Metabolic Syndrome: a Randomized SYSDIET Sub-study." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Oct 16. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v68/n1/full/ejcn2013192a.html.

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