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Nordic diet
Nutrition

Would You Benefit from the Nordic Diet?

It seems like a new diet craze pops up monthly with promises of improved health and significant weight loss. Unlike fad diets, though, the Nordic diet has some heavy hitters singing its praises such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Harvard Medical School.

In light of some alarming new medical trends such as the increase in incidents of colon cancer and cardiovascular disease along with a rise in obesity, it is becoming clear that diet has a major effect on wellness and prevention of chronic disease, but, still, many people are not eating right. The New Nordic Diet has been around since 2004 and, now, there is clinical evidence proving its benefits.

What is the Nordic Diet?

Like the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet, or New Nordic Diet as the modern version is called, is based on foods traditionally found in a key area of the world that includes: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In 2004, food professionals from these five countries got together in Copenhagen to develop a regional cuisine that focused on promoting healthier eating habits.

The diet itself is very simple. It is primarily plant-based with a focus on vegetables and fruits. It steers you away from animal fat and sugar while doubling fiber intake and heart-healthy choices like seafood.

In May, the World Health Organization issued statements praising the health and nutritional benefits found in this diet strategy. According to WHO, following the Nordic diet can lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that sticking to the Nordic diet was effective in lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation, as well. A Swedish study conducted by the Karolinska Institute reports it improves cognitive brain function and might reduce the risk of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

What Kind of Foods Do You Eat on the Nordic Diet?

Root VegetablesThe focus is on locally sourced foods and seasonal vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are known to be rich in a phytochemical that may help detoxify the body, removing chemicals that are potentially linked to cancer.

You can also expect to eat plenty of root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Root vegetables offer antioxidants such as vitamin C and A. Antioxidants help fight damage done by oxidation, the primary culprit in some cancers and in aging.

When following the Nordic diet, you will:

  • Focus on: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, low-fat dairy and rapeseed, or canola, oil
  • Occasionally eat: Game meats, cheese, eggs and yogurt
  • Try to avoid: Red meat and animal fats
  • Eliminate: Sugary sodas, processed sugar, added sugar, processed meats, refined foods and food additives

A typical Nordic meal might include:

  • Vegetable meatballs made with carrots and potatoes
  • A mix of split peas, parsley and sunflower seeds
  • A salad

The goal is a healthy mix of vegetables and seafood with some meat. There are hundreds of meal combinations and recipes that keep you on the Nordic plan and eating healthier, making it a very flexible diet to follow.

Does the Nordic Diet Promote Weight Loss?

The jury is still out on that, but, in theory, it should because you are eating low-fat and making better food choices. Weight loss requires you to eat fewer calories than your body burns. For that to happen, you have to manage your calorie intake, reduce portion sizes and exercise. The good news is you are filling a large part of each plate with low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables and that alone should help you drop pounds.

Is the Nordic Diet the Same Thing as the Mediterranean Diet?

Rapeseed OilIf you are familiar with the Mediterranean diet, you’ll see some similarities. They both place an emphasis on plant-based foods. They both offer some amount of fish, eggs and low-fat dairy while cutting back on red meat.

The biggest difference is the use of rapeseed oil instead of light olive oil. Rapeseed oil is just another name for canola and it offers healthy fat rich in omega-3 fatty acid. The Nordic diet also includes good carbohydrates like whole grain bread.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet takes you in the right direction for good health, so it’s really just a matter of personal choice. If you enjoy berries, whole grain bread and prefer canola oil, it’s good to have the option to go Nordic instead of Mediterranean.

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