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The Nordic Diet

A diet rich in traditional Nordic fare could chart a course to conquering better health.

Nordic diet

With respect to geographically inspired eating lifestyles, the Mediterranean diet has been a darling among food scientists. But it isn’t the only healthy dietary import from Europe, according to a study in Clinical Nutrition that highlights the Nordic diet.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen did a 6-month comparison of adults with elevated body mass indexes and an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Some participants followed their habitual diet; others followed a diet containing foods according to Nordic dietary recommendations. They found that adhering to the so-called Nordic diet can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, even in the absence of any weight loss. In particular, the investigators point to the composition of dietary fats in the diet (which is higher in omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats) as one possible explanation for its positive effects on health measures.

Some of the main ingredients within a traditional Nordic diet from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden include:

  • apples
  • berries
  • cabbage
  • fish (salmon, pickled herring, mackerel)
  • herbs
  • oats
  • potatoes
  • rapeseed (canola) oil
  • root vegetables
  • rye bread
  • seeds (flax, sunflower)

Think of it as a Norse force!

See also: Health Lessons From the World’s Blue Zones

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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