We’ve all heard of the Mediterranean diet. Now there’s a New Nordic Diet that offers similar outcomes. What makes them so healthy?
The Nordic diet, or as its developers refer to it, “The New Nordic Diet,” is based on the traditional foods of the Scandinavian countries. It has many similarities to the much-touted health-giving Mediterranean diet—including its heart-healthy benefits.
A foundation in science
The current Nordic diet is similar to the typical North American diet—with similar skyrocketing obesity rates. The OPUS project, based out of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, was established to find a way to combat obesity and chronic health problems as well as the destruction caused by modern agriculture and ranching.
The weight of experts
With the success of the Mediterranean diet in improving health outcomes, the OPUS project set out to create a more regional application that made more sense to Scandinavian populations, with foods that tasted good enough to get locals invested. The actual “diet” came out of a collaboration between nutrition and sustainability specialists, including scientists, chefs, and educators, from all five Nordic countries.
10 guidelines of the New Nordic Diet
More than simply about how and what kind of foods to eat, the NND sets out 10 guidelines:
- more fruit and vegetables every day
- more whole grain
- more food from the seas and lakes
- higher-quality meat, but less of it
- more food from wild landscapes
- organic produce whenever possible
- avoid food additives
- more meals based on seasonal produce
- more home-cooked food
- less waste
New Nordic Diet feeds new research
Once the diet was established, the research began. And that research has been rolling out impressive results. Studies have demonstrated the NND is associated with weight loss—without the need for restricting calories—and may help improve metabolic health and inflammation associated with many chronic diseases.
What are the New Nordics eating?
Whole foods are in. Processed foods are out. So is counting calories or carbs. Shopping for locally grown organic produce and eating sustainably caught fish is the way to go Nordic. One significant difference from the Mediterranean diet is no olive oil (there aren’t many olives growing in the North). Rapeseed (canola) oil is touted instead.
On the New Nordic’s shopping list:
- cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale)
- dark green leafy vegetables
- root vegetables
- fruits (apples, pears)
- whole grains (barley, rye, oats)
- beans and legumes
- wild foods (mushrooms, reindeer moss, lingonberries)
- grass-fed or wild meat (not much)
- sustainably caught fish and shellfish (salmon, herring)
- dairy (small amounts)
- organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
Living exactly like a New Nordic might not be as easy for North Americans—since we don’t have lingonberries and reindeer moss growing wild here (those Swedish meatballs don’t qualify as New Nordic, by the way).
But the principles behind the NND have a very familiar ring, of course. Prepare simple meals using local and sustainable foods. The NND is not a trendy diet; it’s meant to foster attention to local, fresh, and sustainable food—something we Contemporary Canucks are already very familiar with.
Recipes for the Contemporary Canuck
Try these Nordic-like alive recipes that every Contemporary Canuck will love:
What does your Contemporary Canuck Diet look like?