Health

Ready to Try the Nordic Diet? Nutritionists Suggest One Important Tweak.

The Nordic diet emphasizes eating whole grains, in-season fruits and vegetables, and fish. Adding olive oil can make the diet more flavorful and replace canola oil as the traditional cooking fat.

Aug. 23, 2019
By Matthew Cortina

Recent News

For those on the Mediter­ranean diet who are look­ing for a few new dishes or want to try some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent alto­gether, look north — way north — to Scan­di­navia and its Nordic diet.

The Mediter­ranean and Nordic diets are based on adopt­ing a healthy lifestyle rather than fol­low­ing a restric­tive diet plan’ and revolve around sea­sonal, sus­tain­able and locally sourced foods of their respec­tive regions,” said Layne Lieber­man, a reg­is­tered dieti­cian and author of Beyond the Mediter­ranean Diet: Euro­pean Secrets of the Super-Healthy. Both are plant-based, pescatar­ian focused and empha­size a vari­ety of health­ful and whole­some food choices.”

We have far more research about the health-pro­tec­tive ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil com­pared to canola, and its pro­duc­tion is more straight­for­ward.- Cyn­thia Sass, per­for­mance nutri­tion­ist

The Nordic diet was cre­ated by a group of health and sus­tain­abil­ity-minded chefs in 2004, with an eye toward con­sum­ing whole foods sourced locally, thus sup­port­ing healthy bod­ies and the envi­ron­ment. The diet empha­sizes hearty and dense whole grains, legumes, sea­sonal, organic and for­aged veg­eta­bles and fruits, fish from oceans and lakes, mod­er­ate amounts of qual­ity meat, low-fat dairy and eggs, and less processed and sug­ary foods,” Lieber­man said.

Berries, omega-3-fatty fish, lentils and other high-fiber foods, and grains such as oats, rye and bar­ley fea­ture heav­ily in the Nordic diet.

See more: Olive Oil Health News

How­ever, there is a pesky oil in the Nordic diet: canola oil. It thrives in cooler cli­mates, which is why it is the default oil for the local­ity-focused Nords. But switch­ing in olive oil for raw and cook­ing pur­poses can help boost the diet’s health ben­e­fits, accord­ing to Cyn­thia Sass, a Los Ange­les-based per­for­mance nutri­tion­ist.

Advertisement

We have far more research about the health-pro­tec­tive ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil com­pared to canola, and its pro­duc­tion is more straight­for­ward,” Sass said.

Lieber­man said both oils are high in heart-healthy monoun­sat­u­rated fats, but that canola oil can be highly processed.

Besides the health ben­e­fits, swap­ping in olive oil for canola oil in Nordic diet meals can also boost fla­vor.

Fresh [extra vir­gin] olive oil is more fla­vor­ful than canola oil. I love to use it spar­ingly over sal­ads, cooked pasta, steamed veg­eta­bles and seafood,” Lieber­man said.

She added that olive oil can be used as a mari­nade or as a but­ter replace­ment, regard­less of the diet, in baked goods.

Sass echoed the sen­ti­ment that olive oil can be a good replace­ment when cook­ing Nordic diet items, adding that it is a good fat for roast­ing root veg­eta­bles or cook­ing red cab­bage.

Com­pared to the Mediter­ranean diet, which has under­gone exten­sive research since its pop­u­lar­iza­tion in the mid-20th cen­tury, there are fewer stud­ies on the Nordic diet. How­ever, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion found in a recent sur­vey of local­ity-based diets that the reg­i­men has been shown to pro­mote car­dio­vas­cu­lar health” and pro­duce weight loss” in peo­ple cat­e­go­rized as obese.

As a final point, Lieber­man said any diet, whether it is Mediter­ranean, Nordic or some­thing else, needs to be fol­lowed in con­cert with an active lifestyle. Given that, prac­ti­tion­ers of the Nordic diet out­side Scan­di­navia can take a few cues from the pop­u­la­tion there.

An active lifestyle is essen­tial to the suc­cess of both the Mediter­ranean and Nordic diets,” she said. Peo­ple of the Nordic region bicy­cle as a means of trans­porta­tion, even dur­ing the freez­ing-cold win­ter months, use pub­lic trans­porta­tion, walk every­where (even in the rain) and enjoy ski­ing and other sports.”

Because the Nordic diet has such a focus on sourc­ing local foods, both for their health and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, Lieber­man said peo­ple who live in colder cli­mates might have eas­ier access to foods fea­tured in the diet: root veg­eta­bles, cab­bage and sauer­kraut. For those in warmer cli­mates, a blend of Nordic and Mediter­ranean diet foods might be worth exper­i­ment­ing with.





Related News