If someone asked you which area is the healthiest on earth, which would you choose? Japan, where the blue zone is located in Okinawa and people regularly live above 100 in good health? Mediterranean? While there are many places around the world that one could point to, the Nordic region of Northern Europe is often overlooked. But it shouldn’t be –All Nordic countries exceed the global average life expectancy.
In the United States, the average life expectancy is 76 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Nordic countries (which includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Åland, and the Faroe Islands), all countries except Greenland had Consistent life expectancy on the threshold of 80 years. There are many reasons why people in the Nordic countries can expect to live longer than people in the United States for example, they are known to have higher quality healthcare available to more people. But one of the reasons is definitely their diet. This has led to the popularity of the Nordic diet, modeled after the way people eat in this part of the world.
never heard of it? Keep reading to find out what it is and how it can benefit health.
What is the Scandinavian diet?
Simply put, the Nordic diet is a way of eating similar to how people eat in the Nordic countries. Registered Dietitian and Recipe Developer Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, FANDAnd He says this includes a diet rich in the following foods:
- Vegetables, including root vegetables like turnips, beets, and carrots
- Fruit, especially berries
- Seafood, especially fatty fish, including SalmonTuna, sardines and mackerel
- fermented foods
- dairy products, including skyr
- All cereal
These foods are rich in fiber, omega-3 and probiotics—All the research shows they’re good for overall health and can reduce your risk of chronic disease, says Andrews. “A person can benefit from including more of these foods in their diet, even if they are not the only foods they eat.”
What’s notable about the Nordic diet, she adds, is what it is No They are eaten on a regular basis, which includes processed foods that are high in sugar, processed meats, sugary drinks, and alcohol. “Research has shown Andrews says regular consumption of these foods may increase your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
If you think the nordic diet sounds similar to Mediterranean diet, you are right! “The Nordic diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet plan and is a very healthy way of eating,” says a registered dietitian. Jennie Beth Cropelin, RD, Says. However, there are major differences. The Nordic diet includes a greater consumption of root vegetables and dairy-based foods including skyr, which is similar to yogurt, but richer and creamier.
Following the Nordic diet has many health benefits, which are explained below.
What are the health benefits of following the Nordic diet?
1. It’s packed with foods that support gut health
Nutritionists say that one of the reasons the Nordic diet is so healthy is that it is full of foods that support it Gut health. Fermented foods including pickled vegetables, sugar, kefir, yogurt and sourdough bread are commonly eaten in the Nordic countries, and Andrews says they contain probiotics, which are good bacteria that support gut health. Scientific studies show A diet rich in fermented foods is associated with better immune health and reduced disease-causing inflammation.
Besides fermented foods, the fruits, whole grains, legumes, and root vegetables that are part of the Nordic diet are also good for the gut because they contain fiber, a nutrient that the majority of people in the United States don’t get enough of, and It also supports gut health. “Fiber is important for balancing blood sugar levels, improving digestion, can help lower cholesterol, and helps with satiety,” says Kropelin.
2. It’s good for your heart
While fiber is known for supporting gut health, scientific studies show this It also benefits cardiovascular healthTo reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. The seafood included in the Nordic diet is also good for heart health, Kröpelin says. “Eating three to four ounces of wild-caught fish twice a week can be very beneficial in reducing heart disease or stroke,” she says. This, she says, is because they are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, that directly benefit cardiovascular health.
3. The seafood in the Nordic diet supports brain health
Eating seafood regularly is not only good for your heart; It benefits brain health, too, says Kropelin. This, again, is due to those omega-3s. Studies have shown They may even help preserve memory and play a role in protecting against dementia. Eating omega-3 foods regularly may also help Protects from depression.
Another reason the Nordic diet is beneficial for heart health, Andrews says, is that berries are full of antioxidants that help protect against inflammation, Including chronic conditions affecting the brain.
4. The root vegetables in the Nordic diet are full of beneficial nutrients
In the United States, root vegetables sometimes get a bad rap because of their carbohydrate content, but nutritionists say there are many benefits to preserving foods like potatoes, sweet potatoAnd turnips, carrots and beets in your diet. “Root vegetables are actually very healthy and offer a variety of nutritional and health benefits. While root vegetables are more on the starchy side, they are complex carbohydrates that contain fiber,” Kröpelin explains.
For example, Kropelin says that many root vegetables contain B vitamins, Vitamin A And Vitamin CWhich supports immune health, vision and wound health healing. “Root vegetables also provide phytochemicals that protect the body from environmental free radicals,” she adds.
Andrews adds, “Root vegetables are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.” She says that each root vegetable has its own nutritional profile, depending on its color. “For example, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and potassium,” she explains.
5. If you follow the Nordic diet, you naturally eliminate foods that are harmful to health
Sugary foods and drinks, overly processed foods, and alcohol are all not part of the Scandinavian diet and are eaten in moderation, if at all. Nutritionists say that reducing these foods and drinks is very beneficial for health, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Since the Nordic diet isn’t as restrictive as some other eating plans, you’ll likely find that you won’t miss out on these types of foods at all; There are so many other delicious foods to eat!
There’s no one way to eat that works for everyone, but if eating healthier in 2023 is your goal, the Nordic diet is one eating pattern to consider. May it add years to your life!