Tuesday, August 23, 2022
HomeNutritionThe Well being Advantages of the Nordic Weight loss program

The Well being Advantages of the Nordic Weight loss program

What’s the Nordic eating regimen, and the way can it promote optimum well being? Study extra concerning the well being advantages of the standard Nordic eating regimen sample on this information written by Nordic eating regimen knowledgeable Sharon Palmer.

On a farm in Iceland.

Scandinavia is a land blessed with pure magnificence—rugged fjords, 1000’s of lakes dotting the panorama, deep blue ocean vistas, and verdant pine forests carpeted in wild flowers in the summertime—in addition to wealthy tradition and treasured meals traditions. On condition that my husband’s household is Swedish, I’ve had the wonderful alternative to spend time throughout Scandinavia studying concerning the meals tradition over the previous 25 years. I’ve had easy outside picnics that includes native meals like potato salad, strawberry desserts, and almond cookies. I’ve picked mushrooms and berries within the forest. I’ve loved vacation tables at Christmas and Midsummer, with basic potato, beet, and cabbage dishes. Over time, I’ve seen the meals tradition evolve. My first visits to supermarkets all of these years in the past revealed nothing however cabinets stocked with easy provides of entire meals, whereas at this time’s grocery shops look remarkably just like American markets, stuffed with processed and comfort meals. And Western-style quick meals eating places abound. The Nordic international locations are working laborious to protect the standard eating regimen sample for a number of causes, together with well being and sustainability. Certainly, extra analysis and recognition has credited the standard Nordic eating regimen—the straightforward healthful consuming fashion primarily based totally on entire grains, seasonal produce, and seafood—with well being advantages. You’ll be able to study extra concerning the Nordic eating regimen in my At the moment’s Dietitian Webinar on this subject.

Reykjavik, Iceland

What is the Nordic Weight loss program?

Darkish, hearty rye breads, preserved seafoods, summer time berries, and root greens. These are a number of the key meals of the standard Nordic Weight loss program, which is a time period used to explain the same but distinctive foodways adopted by Nordic international locations. These international locations embody Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Greenland. Nordic international locations are united throughout borders by related meals traditions, geography, local weather, and a shared emphasis on native and seasonal meals. For instance, many dishes, resembling dried fish and rye crispbread, can have widespread histories throughout Scandinavia, however every nation, and even areas inside that nation, can have a distinct identify and recipe related to their particular tackle that recipe.

Dried fish in Iceland

The Historical past of Nordic Meals Tradition

Nordic meals tradition was birthed from a necessity for survival. The lengthy, darkish, frozen winters meant that it was troublesome to make sure securing sufficient meals to fulfill the individuals’s dietary wants. Thus, the muse of the Nordic Weight loss program is predicated on three elements: local weather, way of life, and isolation. The local weather, with these infinite icy winters, but bursts of sunshine within the lengthy heat days of summer time, meant that meals needed to be secured throughout the hotter months that would final over the winter. As well as, crops needed to be cultivated which suited these climate patterns, resembling oats, rye, beets, carrots, cabbage, and potatoes, turning into vital elements of the eating regimen. Meals, resembling herbs, berries and mushrooms have been foraged throughout the heaters months, as nicely. Life-style additionally factored into meals traditions, together with a deep-held communion with nature and the presents from the forest, in addition to numerous small farms dotting the panorama. Due to these lengthy, darkish days (in some elements of Scandinavia the solar by no means rises throughout elements of the winter), households turned very remoted, having to make sure survival by means of their rugged tenacity. Over time, these three elements developed right into a cultural eating regimen sample that has been handed down by means of generations. Simply have a look at these meals traditions which have lengthy been celebrated in Nordic international locations: pickled herring is consumed at many holidays, crayfish events pop up within the summertime when this shellfish is extensively out there in waterways, and legend has it that it’s best to pass over a bowl of porridge at Christmas for the barn elves in order that they behave themselves over the winter.

November farmers market with seasonal produce in Norway

Meals preservation is a good instance of one of many methods local weather and survival influenced the early Nordic Weight loss program. Within the mountains, milk is preserved as cheese and butter for the winter. Different examples of meals preservation embody fish traditions, resembling dried cod, pickled herring, Norwegian lutefisk, and Icelandic fermented shark. Greens, resembling cabbage and beets, have been pickled. Berries have been cooked down into concentrates to rehydrate with water in a while. Breads have been baked into long-lasting crispbreads, produced from freshly harvested grains. Root cellars helped maintain greens, like cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and rutabagas, edible for months. Pulses, like beans and peas, might be dried and consumed throughout the 12 months in dishes, such because the weekly Pea Soup that could be a basic customized in Sweden. The tip outcome was a eating regimen sample wealthy in foraged, seasonal, native meals, resembling seafood, entire grains, pulses, root and cruciferous greens, and fruits like apples, pears and berries.

Native produce on show in Stockholm, Sweden

The Idea of a Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program

What fed into the idea of the well being advantages of the eating regimen patterns in Scandinavia? You’ll be able to hint this data again to the rising recognition of the Mediterranean eating regimen, as this eating regimen sample highlighted the well being advantages of particular conventional eating regimen patterns. Within the Nineteen Fifties the Seven International locations Examine, carried out by Ancel Keys, discovered that Greece had the bottom saturated fats consumption and coronary coronary heart illness threat, whereas the Nordic nation of Finland had the best saturated fats consumption of all of the European international locations studied, in addition to the best threat of coronary coronary heart illness. In 1972, in response to the Seven International locations Weight loss program, the North Karelia Intervention undertaking instructed the individuals of Finland to cut back saturated fats of their eating regimen by encouraging low-fat dairy and the consumption of entire grains, fruits, and greens, whereas lowering the consumption of butter, animal fats, meats, and egg yolks. These interventions decreased CHD incidents by 82% in males and 84% in ladies. Outstanding certainly!

Native produce in Copenhagen, Denmark

It was throughout this time that scientists began noticing that many elements of the standard Nordic eating regimen have been just like the applauded Mediterranean eating regimen, resembling entire grains, seafoods, and seasonal vegetables and fruit. And there have been alternatives to honor a extra healthful Nordic eating regimen sample steeped in a sustainable, extra conventional means of consuming (now known as the New Nordic Weight loss program or the Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program). As an alternative of encouraging Scandinavians to eat the Mediterranean eating regimen, which is predicated on meals not out there domestically, why not revitalize the healthiest elements of the Nordic conventional eating regimen?

Entire grain crispbread is a part of the wholesome, conventional Nordic eating regimen

A Nearer Have a look at the Conventional Nordic Weight loss program

The next meals are a part of the standard Nordic eating regimen sample, with an emphasis on domestically produced, seasonal meals.

  • Fruits and Berries: Rose hip, blueberries, lingonberries, apples, pears, and prunes
  • Greens: Cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, fennel, spinach, sugar peas, kale, mushrooms
  • Root Greens: Onion, kohlrabi, turnips, parsnips, beetroot, and viper’s grass
  • Nuts: Almonds
  • Legumes: Brown beans, yellow peas, and inexperienced peas
  • Meat: Pasture-raised beef, lamb, and reindeer
  • Poultry: Hen and turkey
  • Dairy Merchandise: Low-fat or fermented milk and cheese
  • Fish: Herring, mackerel, and salmon
  • Grains/Cereals: Entire grain rye, entire grain wheat, oat bran, barley flakes, muesli, and pearled barley
  • Seeds: Linseed, psyllium, and sunflower seeds
  • Fat and Oils: Vegetable fats spreads, vegetable liquid margarine, sunflower oil, linseed (flaxseed) oil, and rapeseed (canola) oil
  • Sweets: Jam and baked items
Swedish pears on the market

Evaluating the Mediterranean Weight loss program to the Nordic Weight loss program

As I discussed, the wholesome, conventional Nordic eating regimen sample has commonalities with the Mediterranean eating regimen, but it’s culturally and geographically higher suited to the Nordic international locations.

Key Meals Mediterranean Weight loss program Nordic Weight loss program
Oils Olive Rapeseed
Greens Legumes Native greens (roots, cabbage, legumes)
Fruits Bananas, apples, and oranges Wild berries and native fruits (apples, pears, and so on.)
Grains Entire grain wheat Entire grain rye, oats, and barley
Nuts Present in each diets  
Fish Salmon, tuna, and halibut Sea and lake fish
Meat Poultry sparsely Sport, low fats meat, and poultry sparsely
Alcohol Wine sparsely No suggestion, will be consumed sparsely
Dairy merchandise Cheese Low-fat milk merchandise and cheese
Farm in Iceland

Evaluating the Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program

So, simply how wholesome is the Nordic eating regimen? In 2011, the Wholesome Nordic Meals Index (HNFI) was printed by Olsen, et al. The HNFI was created to guage the impact that Nordic meals teams have on well being and mortality. This analysis confirmed that the wholesome Nordic Weight loss program sample, described above, varies from the common eating regimen in these international locations, as a result of it meets the requirement for micronutrients and is greater in plant meals, fish, eggs, vegetable fat, and fiber, and decrease in meat, dairy, sweets, sodium, and alcohol, in comparison with the common eating regimen. This highlights that many individuals within the Nordic international locations have strayed away from the healthful Nordic eating regimen sample in the direction of a extra Western fashion of consuming, which is excessive in crimson meats, processed meals, refined grains, and sugar, and low in entire grains, pulses, fruits, greens, and fish. It additionally uncovered how highly effective a return to healthful traditions might be.

Science-based advantages from the wholesome Nordic eating regimen sample embody decrease threat for colorectal most cancers, which is primarily related to a better consumption of fruit and grains, reasonable alcohol consumption, and a decrease consumption of processed meat. Nevertheless, further analysis is required to ascertain extra conclusive outcomes as advantages weren’t constant for all examine individuals. 

Clasic Swedish Pea Soup

Proteins within the Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program

One of many fundamental variations within the wholesome Nordic eating regimen sample pertains to protein selections. Listed here are the first protein selections on this eating regimen sample.

  • Legumes (brown beans, yellow and inexperienced peas)
  • Fish, shellfish (herring, mackerel, salmon, white fish)
  • Free-range livestock (beef, pork, lamb)
  • Poultry (rooster, turkey)
  • Sport (reindeer, deer)
  • Dairy Merchandise (Low-fat milk, fermented milk, cheese)
  • Eggs (utilized in cooking)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts)
Seasonal produce on the market in Helsinki, Finland

Fruits and Greens within the Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program

One other key function is that this healthful eating regimen sample is richer in produce, resembling the next:

  • Herbs (parsley, dill, mustard, horseradish, chive)
  • Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Seaweed
  • Fruits (rose hip, apple, pear, prune)
  • Berries (blueberry, lingonberry, strawberries)
  • Greens (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, peas, viper’s grass, kale)
  • Root Greens (fennel, kohlrabi, onion, leek, turnip, carrot, parsnip, rutabaga, beetroot)
Entire grain rye bread from Sweden

Entire Grains within the Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program

Entire grains are additionally extra prevalent within the extra healthful eating regimen sample, resembling the next:

  • Oats (cereals, muesli, porridge)
  • Bread (entire grain rye and wheat)
  • Pearled Barley
  • Entire grain pasta
Shoreline of Iceland

Environmental Advantages of the Nordic Weight loss program

Our meals selections and sources additionally enormously impression the setting. The New Nordic Weight loss program (or the wholesome Nordic eating regimen sample) has useful results on soil construction, carbon storage, eutrophication, biodiversity, ecosystems, and people, in keeping with analysis.

The three dietary elements of environmental safety that may be noticed within the wholesome Nordic eating regimen sample embody:

  • Weight loss program composition: Discount of meat, fish, and dairy consumption in comparison with the common eating regimen.
  • Native: Consuming native vs. imported commodities within the Nordic international locations has larger advantages.
  • Natural vs. standard produce: Natural agriculture has environmental advantages, however it may be inhibited by socio-economic elements.

Classes from the Nordic Weight loss program for Different Areas

So, you might surprise if the Nordic eating regimen has advantages for you in your personal group? Identical to the Mediterranean eating regimen, you possibly can apply a couple of key classes from the wholesome Nordic eating regimen which will swimsuit your personal meals traditions, tradition, and rising local weather and area.

  • Embody extra seasonal, native, foraged, home-grown, natural greens, together with root and cruciferous greens.
  • Add extra fruits, together with berries (peaches, pears, apples, prunes).
  • Embody reasonable quantity of low-fat, fermented dairy meals (if you happen to eat dairy; oat milk is domestically produced in Scandinavia if you happen to keep away from dairy merchandise).
  • Keep away from processed meats and cut back crimson meat consumption; if you happen to eat meat, prioritize grass-fed, wild meat.
  • Embody unsaturated fat from nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Concentrate on entire grains, together with completely different varieties (resembling oats, rye, barley).
  • Train day by day.
  • Get pleasure from meals with family and friends.
Vegan Jansson’s Temptation (Swedish Potato Casserole)

My Tips about Apply Nordic Meals Traditions at Dwelling
Listed here are a couple of cooking tips about how you can apply wholesome Nordic traditions in your personal kitchen.

  1. Incorporate entire grains into fruit-based desserts.
  2. Use root greens in salads.
  3. Use extra beets, apples, and berries.
  4. Prime crisp breads with dips and greens.
  5. Use barley in soups.

Strive a few of these conventional Nordic dishes at house. Listed here are a few of my favourite plant-based Scandinavian recipes.

Picture: Open Face Beet Fennel Sandwich, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Study extra about my tackle the well being Nordic eating regimen on this At the moment’s Dietitian Webinar and Podcast with Vitalita Well being

Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN with Cara Joseph, Dietetic Intern

Pictures by Sharon Palmer


  1. Amilien, V. Nordic Meals Tradition-A Historic Perspective. Open Version Journals. 2012. https://journals.openedition.org/aof/7014
  2. Kolehmainen, M. The Nordic Weight loss program. Ernaehrungs Umschau Worldwide. 2013. https://www.ernaehrungs-umschau.de/fileadmin/Ernaehrungs-Umschau/pdfs/pdf_2017/01_17/EU01_2017_englisch_Nordic_Diet.pdf
  3. Adamsson, V. What’s a Wholesome Nordic Weight loss program? Meals and Vitamins within the NORDIET Examine. U.S. Nationwide Library of Medication. 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3386552/
  4. Anja Olsen, Rikke Egeberg, Jytte Halkjær, Jane Christensen, Kim Overvad, Anne Tjønneland, Wholesome Points of the Nordic Weight loss program Are Associated to Decrease Complete Mortality, The Journal of Vitamin, Quantity 141, Problem 4, April 2011, Pages 639–644, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.110.131375
  5. Jense, J. & Poulsen, S. The New Nordic Weight loss program-Shopper Expenditures and Financial Incentives Estimated from a Managed Intervention. U.S. Nationwide Library of Medication. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866464/
  6. Saxe, H. The New Nordic Weight loss program is an Efficient Device in Environmental Safety: It Reduces the Related Socioeconomic Price of Diets. The American Journal of Scientific Vitamin. 2014. https://educational.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/5/1117/4577427



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments