Have you ever come across the Nordic diet? No, it’s not quite the Swedish meatballs sold at Ikea, just in case you were thinking about that! It is in fact, a diet focused around healthier options that feature a wide range of plant-based foods that nutritionists always encourage us to eat.
At present, data is limited on the benefits of this particular diet, however, there are a number of studies which suggest following a Nordic eating pattern could encourage weight loss as well as the ability to lower blood pressure.
The Nordic diet, as its name would suggest, features foods that are locally sourced or eaten in a traditional sense in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway. The diet emphasises the use of a trifecta of benefits; seasonal, healthy, and regional foods.
Just what does the diet deliver?
Staples of the Nordic diet feature whole-grain cereals including barley, rye, and oats; berries and other fruits; vegetables (in particular cabbage and root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes); legumes (beans and peas); and fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, and salmon.
This diet shares many aspects with the widely popular Mediterranean diet — often considered the best eating pattern for preventing heart disease — which also emphasises plant-based foods. Both diets take into account the moderate consumption of eggs, fish, and small amounts of dairy, while maintaining a limit on the amount of processed foods, sweets, and red meat a person consumes.
While the Mediterranean diet includes olive oil, the Nordic diet favours rapeseed/canola oil. Just like olive oil, rapeseed oil offers a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fat. But it also offers some alpha-linolenic acid (a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid comparable to the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish). Of course, fatty fish — the richest dietary source of omega-3s — play a role in both Nordic and Mediterranean diets and it’s advised that you aim for two to three servings per week.
The Nordic diet also puts emphasis on high-quality carbohydrates: breads, cereals, and crackers, that have been made using whole-grain barley, rye, and oats. This range of whole-grain foods offer an affluent amount of heart-protecting nutrients, including antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Then we come to the berries, which, if you consume a wealth of you’re going to enjoy another unique aspect of the Nordic diet that may account for some of its health benefits. Research conducted by scientists at Harvard has linked eating ample amounts of berries – blueberries and strawberries, for example – to less weight gain and a lower risk of having a heart attack. Natural berries, many of which can be picked on the hedgerow near our glamping Devon abodes are excellent sources of plant chemicals known as anthocyanins, which are reported to make our blood vessels more flexible as well as lowering our blood pressure.
A wonderful extra: it’s eco-friendly!
The Nordic diet offers a wonderful extra addition in that it’s environmentally friendly. Plant-based diets use fewer natural resources, as well as creating less pollution in comparison to the meat-heavy diets many western people choose. Furthermore, eating locally-produced foods reduces food waste and energy consumption. The beauty of this diet is that we can all adopt its habits.