What Is The Nordic Diet?

by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Last Updated: June 8, 2021

The Nordic Diet may not show up on the “Top 5 Diet Trends”, but it’s one to be aware of due to its potential health benefits, emphasizing seasonal and locally sourced foods. It also encourages eating with friends and family.

The Nordic Diet was created by nutrition scientists at Denmark’s University of Copenhagen and a top chef as part of a years-long effort to address growing obesity rates and unsustainable farming practices in the Nordic countries. Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland have not only embraced this eating pattern but adopted it as their lifestyle.

Like the Mediterranean Diet, both diets emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fatty fish and are low in red meat and sweets. What makes these two diets different is the use of rapeseed oil, more commonly known as canola oil.

Canola oil is one of the healthiest oils available, not to mention versatile and very affordable. Compared to other oils, canola oil has the least amount of saturated fat, the most plant-based omega-3 fat, and a source of monounsaturated omega-9 and omega-6 fat. Growing research suggests canola oil can have positive effects on several chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Not only does the type of fat used in the Nordic Diet contribute to better health, so does the dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals we find in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. In small studies, the Nordic Diet appears to be effective in lowering blood pressure. More research is needed to determine its impact on cholesterol, triglyceride, blood sugar levels, and inflammation. Typically, any diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes will benefit health.

Other than improved health, the Nordic Diet is more sustainable as it emphasizes seasonal and locally sourced foods. This is important because it reduces our carbon footprint, optimizes nutrient intake, and promotes harmonious living. Seasonal produce is harvested at its peak, so it retains its full nutrient content. When produce ripens naturally on the vine or in the ground, it will have enhanced flavor. The Nordic Diet promotes choosing organic produce when possible.

The Nordic Diet also promotes choosing organic, high-quality animal protein such as fatty fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, beef, and boneless skinless chicken breast. However, the diet emphasizes that less meat should be consumed overall. Since purchasing organic is a component of the Nordic diet, following the diet could be expensive.

Cooking more at home and eating out less are other aspects of the Nordic Diet that may be more cost-effective and help balance out buying more organic foods. Spending an hour cooking dinner is not uncommon when following the Nordic Diet. It’s also encouraged to sit down routinely with friends and family to eat. Regular meals with loved ones offer a wide variety of physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits.

Understandably, not everyone can routinely take an hour to cook at home. However, if incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and legumes (either organic or conventional) is something you’d like to do, then let a Kroger Dietitian help you. They can guide you on how to pick, prepare and enjoy a variety of produce. If you’ve been recommended to cut down on red meat and you are concerned about not being full or satisfied, don’t sweat it! A Kroger Dietitian can show you how to reduce animal protein while still hitting your protein goals. Schedule a free virtual Telenutrition appointment today!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth loves being a dietitian because it connects her two passions- helping people, and healthy living. She’s a walking encyclopedia of better for you foods, meals, and culinary hacks to ensure her patients are enjoying the flavors they love while eating and staying well.