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By Joe Leech
The latest “diet" to appear in the media is called the Nordic diet.
Proponents of this diet claim that you can improve your health by eating “Nordic" foods.
These are the traditional foods commonly eaten by people in the Nordic countries.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
This eating pattern is also supported by the fact that obesity rates in the Nordic countries are much lower than in the U.S. (3).
This article explains everything you need to know about the Nordic diet. What to eat, what to avoid, health benefits, a research review and numerous tips.
What is The Nordic Diet?
As the name suggests, the Nordic diet is a way of eating that focuses on the traditional foods of the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland).
The Nordic diet was created in 2004 by a group of nutritionists, scientists and chefs, in order to address growing obesity rates and unsustainable farming practices in the Nordic countries.
Compared with an average Western diet, it contains less sugar, less fat, twice the fiber, and twice the fish and seafood (4).
Foods to Eat and Avoid
The Nordic diet emphasizes locally grown and sustainable food sources, with a heavy focus on foods considered healthy according to “mainstream" nutrition science.
- Eat often: Fruits, berries, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rye breads, fish, seafood, low-fat dairy, herbs, spices and rapeseed (canola) oil.
- Eat in moderation: Game meats, free-range eggs, cheese and yogurt.
- Eat rarely: Other red meats and animal fats.
- Don't eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, food additives and refined fast foods.
As many critics correctly point out, many of the foods on the “Nordic" diet were actually never eaten in the Nordic countries back in the day.
These include low-fat dairy and canola oil, which are modern foods. Fruit also does not grow well in the north, except perhaps for some berries.
Bottom Line: The Nordic diet emphasizes the traditional foods of the Nordic countries. It is similar to the Mediterranean diet in many ways, and heavily emphasizes plant foods and sea foods.
The Nordic Diet and Weight Loss
Several studies have assessed the weight loss effects of the Nordic diet.
In one study of 147 obese men and women, those eating a Nordic diet lost 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg), while those eating a typical Danish diet lost only 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) (1).
This is fairly impressive, especially considering that people were not instructed to restrict calories.
However, in a follow-up study a year later, the Nordic diet participants had gained most of the weight back (5).
These results are actually very typical for long-term studies on weight loss. People lose weight in the beginning, but then it gradually returns over a period of one to two years.
Another study supports the weight-reducing effects of the Nordic diet. In this six-week long study, the Nordic diet group lost four percent of body weight, significantly more than those who followed a standard diet (6).
Bottom Line: The Nordic diet appears to be effective for short-term weight loss, even when people are not asked to restrict their calorie intake.
Health Benefits of The Nordic Diet
Healthy eating goes way beyond just weight loss.
It can also lead to significant improvements in metabolic health, and lower the risk of all sorts of chronic diseases.
Several studies have examined the effects of the Nordic diet on health markers.
In a six-month study on obese participants, a Nordic diet reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.1 and 3.2 mmHg, respectively, compared to a control diet (1).
Another 12-week study found a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure in participants with the metabolic syndrome (7).
Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Even though the Nordic diet is high in many heart-healthy foods, its effects on cholesterol and triglycerides are inconsistent.
However, one study found a mild reduction in the LDL-c/HDL-c ratio and the Apo B/Apo A1 ratio, as well as non-HDL cholesterol, which are all strong risk factors for heart disease (2).
Blood Sugar Control
Chronic inflammation is a major driver of many serious diseases.
Another study found that the Nordic diet reduced the expression of genes related to inflammation in the body's fat tissues (8).
Bottom Line: The Nordic diet appears to be effective for lowering blood pressure. The effects on cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar levels and inflammatory markers are weak and inconsistent.
Environmental Aspect of The Nordic Diet
Some proponents of the diet also recommend consuming organic foods.
Take Home Message
The evidence behind the Nordic diet is not particularly impressive.
It does cause short-term weight loss, and some reduction in blood pressure and inflammatory markers, but the results appear to be weak and inconsistent.
At the end of the day, any diet that emphasizes real food instead of standard Western junk food is likely to lead to weight loss and health improvements.
This has been demonstrated, time and time again, in hundreds of studies on various different diets.
However, there is nothing magical about “Nordic" foods, or “eating like a viking."
The diet works because it replaces processed foods with whole, single-ingredient foods. That's it.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Julia Conley
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Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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