The Nordic Diet Actually Makes a Lot of Sense

updated Mar 30, 2020
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For years, the Mediterranean diet was flaunted as the way to eat, based on the overall healthiness and longevity of the people who lived in the region. In fact, just this year it was rated the “best” way to get healthy in 2019.

But recently, another region of long-lived, healthy people have had their diet buoyed and commodified for the diet-following American public, and it is one that makes a lot of sense. The Nordic diet is based on the way people in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have eaten traditionally, and promoted based on the low rates of obesity in those countries.

“New Nordic” food has been a staple of restaurant trends in recent years, and this is just sort of a different angle on the same things that made folks like René Redzepi of Noma and Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken so famous: local, seasonal vegetables, whole grain cereals (rye, barley, and oats, for example), fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, and herring), berries, and legumes. As espoused in the books that explain it on Amazon, the diet is all about focusing on the vegetable, with the healthy fats and other foods viewed as supporting cast members.

A Harvard Medical School Blog post on it from 2015 notes that in addition to its healthfulness for the human body, it’s a good one for the earth as well. While it shares many of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (they’re quite similar, in many ways), it has a key difference: the focus on seasonal vegetables. It means that instead of trying to source tomatoes in Minnesota in January, you can look for kale, broccoli, and beets. Oh, and that also benefits something else, too: your pocket book!

Another key difference between the Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet is that the former uses a lot of olive oil, while the latter prefers canola oil. Both contain a high amount of omega-3s, but canola oil has less saturated fat.

Intrigued? Healthline has the best quick summary of how to follow the diet, what to expect from benefits, and addresses any concerns about downsides to it (spoiler alert: there aren’t many).