The Nordic Diet: An Evidence-Based Review

denmark diet

The Nordic Diet: An Ev >

The Nordic diet incorporates foods commonly eaten by people in the Nordic countries.

Several studies show that this way of eating may cause weight loss and improve health markers — at least in the short term ( 1 , 2).

This article reviews the Nordic diet, including foods to eat and avoid, as well as potential health benefits.

The Nordic diet is a way of eating that focuses on locally sourced foods in the Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

It was created in 2004 by a group of nutritionists, scientists, and chefs to address growing obesity rates and unsustainable farming practices in the Nordic countries.

It may be a good choice from an environmental perspective, as it emphasizes foods that are locally sourced and sustainably farmed.

Compared to an average Western diet, it contains less sugar and fat but twice the fiber and seafood ( 3 ).

Foods to Eat and Avoid

The Nordic diet emphasizes traditional, sustainable, and locally sourced foods, with a heavy focus on those considered healthy.

  • Eat often: fruits, berries, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rye breads, fish, seafood, low-fat dairy, herbs, spices, and rapeseed (canola) oil
  • Eat in moderation: game meats, free-range eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Eat rarely: other red meats and animal fats
  • Don’t eat: sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, food additives, and refined fast foods

The Nordic diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet. The biggest difference is that it emphasizes canola oil instead of extra virgin olive oil.

As critics correctly point out, some of the foods on the Nordic diet didn’t exist in the Nordic countries centuries ago.

These include low-fat dairy and canola oil, which are modern foods. Most fruits also don’t grow well in the north — except for apples and several types of berries.

Still, the Nordic diet wasn’t designed to reflect the diet of Nordic people hundreds of years ago. Instead, it emphasizes healthy foods that are sourced locally in modern-day Scandinavia.

SUMMARY The Nordic diet emphasizes the foods of the Nordic countries. It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet and heavily emphasizes plant foods and seafoods.

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