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.
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:
- 1Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, seafood, and whole grains
- 2Eat less frequently game meat, eggs, cheese, and yogurt
- 3Hardly ever eat red meats and animal fats
- 4Never 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
- 1First 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.
- 2Also 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.
- 3Next, 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 homemade bread or 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.
Fish from the ocean, seas, and lakes provide many healthy benefits. In fact, fish containing omega-3 fatty acids help you by:
- 1Reduce your chances of heart rhythm problems
- 2Cause less plaque buildup in the arteries, and
- 3Cut down on triglycerides in blood
And, examples of these fish include:
- 1Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna
- 2Lean fish such as cod, haddock and halibut
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.
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:
- 1Avoid weight gain
- 2Reduce inflammation, and
- 3Lower your risk of diseases like diabetes
Select carbs using the guidelines below.
- 1Use low-GI foods such as fruits and vegetables other than potatoes.
- 2Use 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.
- 3Low fat dairy products
Select proteins using the guidelines below.
- 1Fish such as shellfish or white fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- 2Lean cuts of pork
- 3Veal and beef
- 4Skinless poultry
- 5Tofu and legumes such as lentils or beans
Vegetables and whole grains provide fiber. And, for extra fiber add chia seeds to your 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 would contain dry fruits, grains, berries, or porridge with oats.
For lunch, eat rye bread, salads, pickles, herrings, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus, green peas, rhubarb, wild herbs and fruits.
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 made in a toaster, fresh fruits or their juice using a blender, and 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 plain water with every meal.
Benefits of the Nordic Diet
Most of all, the Nordic diet:
- 1Helps you lose weight, especially belly fat
- 2According to scientist, helps heart health because the diet lowers unhealthy cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and insulin levels.
- 3Helps lower LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol
- 4Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes
- 5Helps 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.
- 1Preparing meals takes up too much time.
- 2Consistently preparing homemade meals would be a strain for most people.
- 3Finding locally grown vegetables or fruits throughout the year may not be possible, especially during the non-summer months.
- 4Fresh vegetables or fruits are not always available in all grocery stores.
- 5Difficulty trying to follow the diet when eating out
- 6Difficulty finding foods meeting glycemic index
- 7Need 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:
- 1#3 in “Best Plant-Based Diets”
- 2#6 in “Best Diets for Healthy Eating”
- 3#9 in the category “Best Diets Overall”
- 4#13 in “Best Heart Healthy Diets”
- 5#15 in “Best Diabetes Diets”
- 6#19 in “Easiest Diets to Follow”
- 7#26 in “Best Weight-Loss Diets”
- 8#33 in “Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets”