How Good is the Nordic Diet

The Nordic diet is based on locally sourced foods eaten in the Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, and Iceland. The philosophy of the diet is to eat locally grown, sourced, or available wholesome foods. As a result, the Nordic diet can be adapted to foods locally grown, sourced, or available wherever you live.

Nordic Diet

Emphasis of the Nordic Diet

Especially relevant, the Nordic diet contains less sugar and fat but twice the fiber and seafood, especially when compared to a typical Western diet. Furthermore, the Nordic diet’s emphasis is on the following:

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    Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, seafood, and whole grains
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    Eat less frequently game meat, eggs, cheese, and yogurt
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    Hardly ever eat red meats and animal fats
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    Never eat added sugars, processed meats, food additives, refined fast foods, and beverages with sugar

Nordic Diet Guidelines

The Nordic diet is based on the guidelines described here.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

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    First of all, eat berries frequently. In fact, berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help keep your veins and arteries healthy and flexible. As a result, anthocyanins help lower your blood pressure.
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    Also eat peas and beans often. In fact, peas and beans are a major source of fiber and complex carbs. Also, peas and beans are a good source of proteins. In addition, they provide vitamins like riboflavin and B6. Finally, they provide minerals like zinc, calcium, and iron.
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    Next, eat legumes, vegetables such as cabbage, root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, beets, and tubers like potatoes. Most of all, they are a source of fiber that takes a long time to digest and helps keep your blood sugar stable. In addition, they help protect your cells, lower your cholesterol and fight infection.

Eat Whole Grains

Whole grains such as oats and barley are an important part of meals. Another example is dark, dense sourdough rye bread from Denmark. In addition, eat snacks such as whole-grain crackers from Sweden. Most of all, they provide high-quality “complex’ carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to protect your cells.

Eat Fish

Fish from the ocean, seas, and lakes provide many healthy benefits. In fact, fish containing omega-3 fatty acids help you by:

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    Reduce your chances of heart rhythm problems
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    Cause less plaque buildup in the arteries, and
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    Cut down on triglycerides in blood

And, examples of these fish include:

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    Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna
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    Lean fish such as cod, haddock and halibut

Eat Meat

High-quality meat should be eaten in small amounts.

Eat Less of

Processed foods as well as less sugary foods.

Eat Home Cooked Meals

Home cooked meals using canola oil or rapeseed oil provide many benefits. Canola oil is low in saturated fat, high in healthy monounsaturated fat, and alpha-linolenic acid. In fact, alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 that helps protect your brain from such things as strokes.

Eat Foods from the Wild

Seek out more foods from the wild. For example, nuts and seeds are a good source of complex carbs and fiber. Also, they are rich in zinc, copper, potassium, vitamin E, niacin, antioxidants, and mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats.

Eat Organic Foods

Whenever possible, use organic produce.

Avoid Food Additives

Instead, use herbs and spices.

Eat Seasonal Produce

Seasonal produce provides an opportunity to eat foods that are only available for short periods of time.

Reduce Waste

Minimize waste by eating more foods that comes with little throw away packaging.

Composing your Meals

Most of all, the Nordic diet doesn’t count calories, instead you calculate the meal’s carbs to protein ratio. Indeed, the ideal Nordic diet meal has a 2:1 ratio of carbs grams to protein grams.

Furthermore, the carbs to protein ratio is based on a combination of Low-Glycemic Index (low-GI) foods and moderately high-protein foods. Most noteworthy, high-protein foods include low fat dairy products.

First, low-GI foods cause a slower and lower elevation in blood sugars compared to high-GI foods. In addition, protein-rich foods make you feel less hungry. Therefore, by properly balancing nutritionally dense foods, you can:

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    Avoid weight gain
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    Reduce inflammation, and
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    Lower your risk of diseases like diabetes

Carbohydrates

Select carbs using the guidelines below.

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    Use low-GI foods such as fruits and vegetables other than potatoes.
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    Use low-GI carbs such as grains, bread, pasta, beans and legumes. In fact, rye is a whole-grain staple in the Nordic diet. Also, pumpernickel and sourdough bread are low-GI carbs while softer fluffy white breads aren’t. In addition, steel-cut oats have a lower GI than instant oatmeal.
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    Low fat dairy products

Proteins

Select proteins using the guidelines below.

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    Fish such as shellfish or white fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide healthy omega-3 fatty acids
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    Lean cuts of pork
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    Veal and beef
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    Skinless poultry
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    Tofu and legumes such as lentils or beans

Fiber

Vegetables and whole grains provide fiber. And, for extra fiber add chia seeds to your meals.

Sample Meals

Above all, a one half of a typical meal would include vegetables, fruits and berries. Next, one quarter contains low-GI carbs. Finally, one quarter contains protein rich foods.

In fact, proteins should be included in every meal. Also, starches like rice and pasta are fine but in smaller amounts than plant foods, lean meats and fish.

Typical Nordic Diet Meal Plans

Breakfast

Breakfast would contain dry fruits, grains, berries, or porridge with oats.

Lunch

For lunch, eat rye bread, salads, pickles, herrings, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus, green peas, rhubarb, wild herbs and fruits.

Dinner

For dinner, eat fish, meat from animals hunted in the wild, and vegetables.

Midmorning or Afternoon Snacks based on Nordic Diet

These snacks can be low-GI toast, fresh fruits or nuts.

How to User Nordic Diet when Eating Outside

When eating outside the home, eat fresh vegetables (instead of potatoes) and pasta salads. Also, eat lean protein and low-GI sides like chickpeas. Finally, drink water with every meal.

Benefits of the Nordic Diet

Most of all, the Nordic diet:

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    Helps you lose weight, especially belly fat
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    According to scientist, helps heart health because the diet lowers unhealthy cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and insulin levels.
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    Helps lower LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol
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    Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes
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    Helps cut back on inflammation. In fact, inflammation is linked to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Physiological Effect of the Nordic Diet

The Nordic diet can help you lose weight, reduce blood pressure, and inflammation.

Weight Loss From Nordic Diet

A 2016 study, with 145 participants, in the Journal of Proteome Research compared the Nordic diet to a Danish diet. Most noteworthy, the Danish diet is almost like an American diet. Also, the Danish diet, with more fat and less fiber, consisted of more meat, processed foods, and fewer plant foods. And, the study reported that after 26 weeks, Nordic diet participants were more likely to lose weight.

Another 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effectiveness of the Nordic diet. Also, this study, which lasted six months, had 147 obese participants. And, the study reported that obese participants on the Nordic diet lost 10.4 pounds. While others on an average Danish diet lost 3.3 pounds.

Finally, a 2011 6-week study in the Journal of Internal Medicine reported the weight-reducing effects of the Nordic diet. And, the study reported that Nordic diet participants lost 4 percent more body weight than the standard diet participants.

Blood Pressure Benefits of Nordic Diet

The 2014 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, described previously, also looked at how Nordic diet affects blood pressure. And, the study found that Nordic diet participants saw greater decrease in blood pressure than the Danish diet participants.

Yet another 2014 study, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition had 37 metabolic syndrome participants lasting 12 weeks. And, the study reported significant ambulatory diastolic blood pressure reduction among Nordic diet participants compared to control diet participants.

Other Effects of the Nordic Diet

Next, a 2013 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine looked at insulin sensitivity and blood pressure. Moreover, the 24 week study involved 166 participants either on a Nordic diet or a control diet. And, the study reported no significant changes in insulin sensitivity or blood pressure between control and Nordic diet participants. However, the Nordic diet participants saw improved lipid profile and beneficial effects on low-grade inflammation.

Finally, a 2015 Journal of Clinical Nutrition study looked at effects of Nordic diet on individuals with metabolic syndrome. And, the study reported reduced inflammatory gene expressions in abdominal subcutaneous adipose (fat) tissue compared to control diet participants.

Downsides of the Nordic Diet

Some of the negatives with the Nordic diet are listed below.

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    Preparing meals takes up too much time.
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    Consistently preparing homemade meals would be a strain for most people.
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    Finding locally grown vegetables or fruits throughout the year may not be possible, especially during the non-summer months.
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    Fresh vegetables or fruits are not always available in all grocery stores.
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    Difficulty trying to follow the diet when eating out
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    Difficulty finding foods meeting glycemic index
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    Need to consciously manage portion sizes to avoid putting on weight.

Popularity of the Nordic Diet

According to U.S. News and World Report the Nordic diet, in 2019, is ranked:

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    #3 in “Best Plant-Based Diets”
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    #6 in “Best Diets for Healthy Eating”
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    #9 in the category “Best Diets Overall”
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    #13 in “Best Heart Healthy Diets”
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    #15 in “Best Diabetes Diets”
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    #19 in “Easiest Diets to Follow”
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    #26 in “Best Weight-Loss Diets”
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    #33 in “Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets”

About the Author Lisa