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What is the Nordic Diet and Are There Benefits?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Are you looking for a new diet to try? Have you heard of the Nordic diet?

The Nordic diet seems to be all the rage right now, and I’m here to tell you why it may be worth a try. As new diets keep coming along almost every day, the Nordic diet is quite a popular one. It’s based on the traditional diets of Scandinavian countries, and it includes a lot of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood, eggs, and dairy products.

The Nordic diet follows principles that have been around for decades, as it promotes a healthy way of consuming your meals by focusing on locally sourced vegetables, fruits, and wild seafood.

The Nordic diet has been ranked 10th as the best overall diet by U.S. News in 2022. So, what is the Nordic diet? What health benefits does it offer? Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition plan.

What is the Nordic Diet?

The Nordic diet is a traditional, healthy eating pattern that has become popular in recent years. It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet in that it emphasizes plant-based foods and uses olive oil as its primary source of fat. But unlike the Mediterranean diet, it also includes seafood, dairy products, and whole grains.

The Nordic diet is a way of consuming food that focuses on locally sourced foods from the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland).

The diet was created in 2004 by a group of scientists, nutritionists, and chefs to address increasing obesity rates and unsustainable farming practices in Nordic countries.

The Nordic diet is a suitable choice from an environmental point of view, as it focuses on foods that are locally sourced and sustainably farmed. As compared to an average Western diet, this type of diet has less sugar and fat but twice the amount of seafood and fiber.

The Health Benefits of the Nordic Diet

The Nordic diet is a lifestyle that emphasizes eating local foods, reusing and recycling waste, and exercising regularly. It’s also what you might call a “healthier” version of the Mediterranean diet.

The Nordic diet has benefits for your heart, brain, and more. Here are some of the health benefits experts say you can expect from eating like a Scandinavian:

1.      Reduce inflammation

Inflammation means the swelling of tissues all over our body, and it is connected to diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure that can reduce the quality and length of our life. A healthy Nordic diet can help minimize inflammation.

According to a study, it was found that the Nordic diet can reduce the inflammatory marker CRP. Another study showed that the diet lowered the expression of genes linked to inflammation in our body’s fat tissue.

2.      High in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals

Studies show that people on the Nordic diet consume greater amounts of essential nutrients, mostly from increased intake of plant-based foods, as compared to those eating a standard American diet.

When you consume more anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich foods, including those high in polyphenol antioxidants and fiber, you can benefit from a greater protection against diseases like obesity and high blood pressure.

3.      Reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides

The levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are reduced by following the Nordic diet. This also helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, it has been found that those who follow this diet have lower blood pressure levels than those who do not follow this diet.

According to a study on people who followed the Nordic diet, a mild reduction was observed in non-HDL cholesterol, LDL-c/HDL-c, and Apo B/Apo A1 ratios — all of which are strong risk factors for heart disease. Another study found that the Nordic diet might also be linked to a lower heart attack risk.

4.      Good for the environment

The focus of this diet is to preserve our planet’s natural resources. Many people choose this lifestyle because they want to reduce their environmental carbon footprint. The focus on locally sourced food helps minimize transportation costs and emissions from transporting food from other countries or states.

An article written by Harvard Publishing explains that plant-based diets use lesser natural resources, such as water and fossil fuels, and create less pollution than meat-heavy diets. In addition to that, consuming locally-produced foods also lowers food waste and energy consumption.

5.      Flexibility

One of the main benefits of the Nordic diet is its flexibility. It’s a flexible plan that doesn’t really require you to follow any specific guidelines or only eat certain foods. Instead, it encourages people to eat mostly unprocessed foods with no added sugar or salt.

The idea is that if you stick to these basics, you’ll be able to make healthy choices for yourself without having to think too much about it — which can be especially helpful if you’re traveling or eating out at restaurants often.


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