Better than the Mediterranean Diet: Healthy Nordic Diet

Many seasonal and regional fish and vegetables are part of the Nordic diet.
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The Mediterranean diet regularly gives very good results in nutritional studies – because it has been proven to prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system. The Nordic diet is also popular.

Both nutritional concepts focus on regional and seasonal fruits and vegetables. In the case of the Mediterranean diet, fish, seafood and olive oil are the main ingredients. The Nordic diet supplements freshwater fish, whole grain products, as well as game and poultry from species-appropriate farms.

The Nordic diet also relies on foods with a low glycemic index – as these do not allow blood sugar levels to rise as quickly and thus prevent obesity.

Regional, seasonal and balanced – this is how the Nordic diet can be described. After the Mediterranean diet was recommended by experts and became a trend in recent years, the Scandinavian diet is following suit. Unlike a diet, this does not eliminate any food from the nutritional plan. The emphasis is on fish, root and tubercle vegetables, berries and game. You can read here what other foods are included and what health benefits the Nordic diet brings with it.

Food and Preparation in the Nordic Diet

The Nordic concept is not primarily about losing weight. On the contrary, a healthy and balanced diet is in the foreground. Many regional fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, root vegetables and legumes (eg beans and peas), apples, pears and berries are not only good for the environment. Because, unlike exotic varieties, they don’t need to be imported first, fewer nutrients are lost on the way to the supermarket.

In addition, fruit and vegetables grown outside the EU are often treated with pesticides. The pesticides it contains enter our body with food intake and can thus affect the immune system and cause autoimmune diseases, allergies or even cancer. The more natural fruits and vegetables are, the better they are for the body.

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Other foods that can be found in the regional Scandinavian diet are Atlantic fish – which contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than Mediterranean fish – walnuts, flaxseed and rapeseed and, in moderation, dairy products such as yoghurt and cottage cheese. Instead of wheat products, Scandinavians rely on whole grain rye, oats and barley. Meat is consumed occasionally (once or twice a week maximum), namely game or poultry from farms appropriate to the species. Fish, on the other hand, is served up to three times a week. Because healthy fats have an anti-inflammatory effect, improve blood circulation, can lower blood pressure and inhibit blood clotting.

Butter and high-fat dairy products, but also sausages, should only be consumed in moderation. Because these contain a lot of animal fats, which in excess increase cholesterol levels and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Trans fats, which are found in French fries, chips, puff pastry and other finished products, especially fried ones, are more likely to be avoided.

In the Nordic diet, dishes are usually prepared in a particularly gentle way, for example by slow cooking in the oven or in a pan, steaming or fermenting. To ferment foods, you add a starter culture, which is a naturally occurring microorganism such as yeast, good bacteria, or mold from the ingredients themselves or from the environment. The food is then stored tightly so that the starter cultures can multiply. Fermented foods are particularly digestible and easy to digest – this means that the body can also better absorb nutrients such as vitamins, iron and zinc.

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The Nordic diet keeps blood sugar levels stable

The Nordic diet also includes foods with a low glycemic index (GI). This means that they have a particularly low impact on our blood sugar levels. The GI indicates how much the carbohydrates in a food cause our blood sugar or blood glucose levels to rise. Low GI foods make weight loss easier and are also healthier than high GI foods. These mainly include plant-based foods high in fiber and protein, such as whole grain products, beans, and dairy products. White rice, pasta and potatoes, on the other hand, are not important parts of the Nordic diet.

The largest nutritional study in the world “Diogenes” was able to demonstrate the benefits of the nutritional concept, especially with regard to blood sugar levels. Other studies have also shown that the Nordic diet helps prevent cardiovascular disease and fight obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The surveys were conducted among the population of northern countries and with local foods. The results are therefore probably not transferable to all population groups. However, research has shown that a diet rich in seasonal and local fruits and vegetables and high fiber and protein components can have many health benefits.

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Mediterranean Diet and Nordic Diet: Differences and Similarities

Mediterranean diet nordic diet
seasonal fruits berries, apples, pears
Mediterranean vegetables (eggplant,
peppers, courgettes, tomatoes)
Cabbage and root vegetables, legumes
whole wheat Whole rye oats and barley
Fish and seafood (e.g. prawns, prawns,
mussels, calamari)
freshwater fish, sea fish
olive oil Rapeseed oil, linseed oil, walnuts
low-fat meat, especially poultry Game, poultry from breeding adapted to the species
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews) Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
Potatoes, rice, pasta especially rice and pasta made with whole grains

The Mediterranean diet regularly performs well in nutritional studies – it has been proven to protect against diseases of the cardiovascular system. With the Mediterranean diet, as with the Nordic diet, many fruits and vegetables from the region are on the menu. Dishes are complemented with olive oil, salads and healthy fats – especially fish and seafood.

What both nutritional concepts have in common is that the focus is on regional and seasonal products. A balanced and sustainable diet therefore depends above all on where you live. Finished products, sugar and unhealthy fats should be eaten in moderation – but should not be completely eliminated. If you want to eat healthy in the long term, you must therefore bet on the most natural foods possible without forbidding you anything.

For example, porridge or porridge from spelled semolina with berries or steamed apple pieces is suitable for breakfast. But wholemeal bread with salmon or, in moderation, scrambled eggs are also good ideas for the first meal of the day. Suitable hot meals include curries or soups made from lentils or peas, fish with root vegetables or cabbage, and once a week a game dish with roots and brown rice or another source of carbohydrates.

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