What Is the Nordic Diet—And Can It Help You Lose Weight?
Eating like the Scandinavians is suddenly hotter than eating Mediterranean—and it may even be healthier.
You’re probably already familiar with the Mediterranean Diet—a way of eating that promotes produce, whole grains, fish, and plenty of olive oil—but there's another European diet making a splash, and it may be healthier.
The Nordic Diet consists of foods traditionally found in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. And, like the Mediterranean Diet, it’s been linked to weight loss and a decreased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Nordic Diet was designed in 2004 when researchers discovered that obesity rates were much lower in Nordic countries than in the United States. Here’s why: the Nordic Diet contains nearly double the amount of fiber in the average American diet, and way less fat and sugar. It also prioritizes eating more fish and seafood, and less red or processed meats.
The diet is based on the Baltic Sea Diet Pyramid, which is most largely made up of fruits and vegetables—specifically Northern-European vegetables such as roots, cabbages, peas, and seasonal fruits and berries (think strawberries, cherries, and the famous currant-like lingonberries).
The next component is made up of high-fiber whole grains—specifically whole grain rye, oats, and barley. Next is low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt. Next is fish and seafood, plus canola oil.
Other meats (such as chicken, pork, or beef) and full-fat dairy should be eaten in moderation. Processed foods, sugary drinks, and desserts should rarely be consumed. The only drinks illustrated in the pyramid are water, milk, and sour milk (buttermilk). Alcohol is also allowed in moderation.
The bottom line: The Nordic Diet and the Mediterranean Diet are very similar in the sense that they prioritize whole foods, whole grains, and lots of seafood. There are differences in the kinds of vegetables and fruits you eat, but the main difference? Mediterranean Dieters consume olive oil, whereas canola oil is used in the Nordic Diet. The good news? Both oils are rich in monounsaturated fats, which promote heart health by raising HDL (“good” cholesterol), and lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol).
We love the Med Diet and the Nordic Diet because they don’t limit any major food groups, and they’re delicious. Want to try eating the Nordic way? Make Seared Salmon with Balsamic-Blistered Tomatoes, Double Barley Posole, Pan-Seared Tilapia with Sweet Pea Puree, Chickpea Panzanella, or Summer Salmon Nicoise Salad.