Healthy Eating: A Guide to the Nordic Diet

One of the most talked about diets, well known for its incredible health benefits. Here is everything you need to know about The Nordic Diet.

What is the Nordic Diet?
The Nordic countries. Renowned for their beauty, nature, healthy lifestyles and home to the birthplace of the Nordic Diet. One of the most talked-about diets of recent years, acclaimed for its incredible health benefits. The Nordic Diet establishes a nutritious eating pattern that emphasizes locally grown, seasonal, organic and sustainably farmed food sources while limiting processed foods, refined sugar, and red meat. The nature of the foods consumed results in a diet including better fats, more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And because the Nordic Diet focuses on plant-based sources it provides high amounts of protein and fibre yet with lower levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat when compared to the average Western diet. Read on to learn what foods the Nordic Diet highlights and the health benefits it delivers.

What food makes the list?
Certain staples attribute to the Nordic Diet’s nutritional success. Guidelines for the diet place focus on more naturally sourced and less processed/sugary foods. Here are some food-specifics that help to make it a healthy dietary pattern.

Berries & fruits
Health benefits: Berries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. By choosing different types and colours of berries you get a variety of antioxidants. Those native to the Nordics include, bilberries, lingonberries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, cloudberries, and Juniper berry — to name a few! Key takeaway: include plenty of antioxidant rich berries of different types in your daily diet.

Vegetables & tubers
Health benefits: Eating more fruits and vegetables (600g per day) has been shown to reduce the risk of many diseases such as obesity and potentially certain cancers. While this may seem like a lot (7.5 portions, to be exact!), more veggies mean more fibre to help stabilize blood sugar levels and a wealth of healthy nutrients to protect and fuel the body. Due to the short growing season, root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beets, potatoes, and cabbage are common in Nordic diets, because they keep better during the long winters. Key takeaway: make sure that your daily diet includes plenty of nutrient rich and filling vegetables that you can find locally grown, according to the season.

Health benefits: From Knäckebröd (Swedish crispbread made from rye) to Rugbrød (dense, dark Danish sourdough rye bread) and havregrynsgröt (typical Swedish porridge made from oats). The Nordic Diet opts for high-quality, fibre-rich carbohydrates. Complex carbs digest differently than their refined counterparts. As a result, the high fibre content helps to feed the good gut microbes, and the grains that remain post-digestion, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fibre and the intact grain are also known for their positive benefits on both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. For wholegrain cereals with Nordic origins try oats, barley, and rye. Key takeaway: choose flour, bread and porridge made from the whole grain instead of refined and more processed varieties.

Health benefits: A key aspect of the Nordic Diet is to eat high-quality lean red meat, but less of it and instead incorporate more plant-based proteins – that are not only nutritious but sustainable. To ensure protein levels don’t drop and nutritional needs are met, the diet recommends mixing beans, peas, and lentils with your meals. Legumes provide excellent sources of plant-based proteins and are nutrient-packed with B6, calcium, zinc, iron, and riboflavin. Plus, they help to add more fibre to your diet — and that’s something most guts could benefit from! Typical to the Nordics: faba beans, yellow peas, and lentils. Key takeaway: exchange animal protein sources for plant protein sources when possible – your body and the planet will thank you.

Health benefits: Low-fat dairy is an important food group of the Nordic Diet. Dairy is an excellent source of high-quality protein and provides many essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium that are important to health. Cultured (fermented) dairy products, such as yoghurt, sour cream and cheese, contributes with oh-so beneficial microbes that help to keep your gut and body healthy. Key takeaway: choose local versions of cultured dairy products for a high-quality protein source that also supports gut health and overall health.

Fatty fish
Health benefits: With an abundance of lakes and seas, the Nordic countries have a long-standing tradition of consuming good quality fish. Both lean and fatty fish provide sources of beneficial nutrients, such as protein, fat, selenium, iodine, phosphorous, potassium and B vitamins. Fatty or oily fish contain a generous amount of omega-3 fatty acids known for their protective properties and positive impact on the brain, eyes, and heart-related concerns. Nordic cultures regularly enjoy herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines in a variety of ways from pickled to smoked and even fermented. Key takeaway: include lean and fatty fish in your weekly diet to ensure good quality protein and omega-3 fats.

Rapeseed oil
Health benefits: In the spring, the blooming of rapeseed flowers splendours the Nordic countryside, with golden fields blanketing rolling pastures in a picturesque fashion. Rapeseed oil — or canola oil — is native to most Nordic countries and generally used for cooking or dressing salads. Rapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and high in healthy monounsaturated fat. Plus, it contains the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) known to help support brain health. Key takeaway: use mainly plant oils rich in unsaturated fats in your food and cooking to support your overall health.

What additional benefits does it provide?
Another bonus of the Nordic Diet? The impact on the environment is low. In addition to the diet advocating for less waste, it also promotes more sustainably sourced and locally produced foods, helping to limit transportation and the use of harsh toxins. Two major wins — for us and Mother Earth. The diet also encourages eating more plant-based products and less red meat, which in turn helps to reduce greenhouse emissions into the air, wastes to the soil, and limits cattle overgrazing. No matter where you live or what you eat, the positive principles of the Nordic Diet are rewarding to any dietary style.

Discover Wellness by Oriflame’s nutritious portfolio — with ingredients inspired by the Nordic Diet.