Can following a Nordic diet make you healthy? New research says yes. The Nordic diet trend is making waves around the world. Similar to the trendy Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet prioritizes fresh veggies, in-season fruits, and encourages whole grains and plenty of seafood.
The Not-so New Nordic Diet
A version of the Nordic diet has existed for as long as people have inhabited Nordic countries. However, in 2004, Nordic chefs introduced a “new Nordic diet” as a way to make the diet more appetizing. Now, several studies are emerging about the diet and its benefits. The World Health Organization found the diet can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and helps people maintain a healthy weight.
What’s in it?
Vegetables and fruits are the star of the meal in the Nordic diet. The diet makes a point to focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. So, for Norway, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, as well as green, leafy veggies are a focal point. For fruits, berries are typically favored, especially the cloudberry and lingonberry.
When it comes to meat, three servings of fish per week is recommended. Of those three servings, two should come from fatty fish like salmon or herring, while the third serving should be a lean fish, like cod. While the diet is low in fats, it does use canola oil, a heart-healthy alternative to other cooking oils.
Whole grains are also an important piece to this diet. This includes rye, barley and oats. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which can lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels.
While dairy isn’t completely eliminated, low-fat dairy is preferred. Items like skyr, and low-fat cheeses are encouraged. Dairy is full of vitamins and protein that will boost your energy throughout the day.
What you won’t see in this diet is processed foods, because this diet emphasizes whole foods. Sugars are also eliminated. This includes sugary beverages and anything with added sugars.
Where to start?
If you want to try the Nordic diet yourself, here are some simple suggestions to try:
Start by making vegetables the main focus of the meal and skip the processed foods. If you’re headed to a party, why not bring a healthier option for an appetizer? Even if you don’t cut out meat entirely, adding additional vegetables to each meal is a great jumping off point.
Cut back on high-fat dairy and choose whole grain options. For breakfast, try switching out your yogurt for skyr, and pair with a Nordic Granola. Granola or porridge for breakfast can be a great way to introduce whole grains into your diet. Make sure to top with fresh berries to round out the meal.
Next, pick fatty fish over red meats. For a summertime picnic, impress your friends and pack your own gravlax smørbrød. Make sure to include a vegetable side dish, too.
The best part about the Nordic diet is that it isn’t overly strict. Making smaller changes to your diet, like adding more vegetables on your plate can be easy. And by making those changes, you can be on your way to a healthier diet.