Scandinavian (Nordic) diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

The Scandinavian diet, also known as the Nordic or Northern diet, is a diet for the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes.It is based on local products and the traditional way of preparing them, but it also contains elements of modernity.The Scandinavian diet began to gain popularity when the scientific community proved that it has a pro-health effect – just like the Mediterranean diet.


Here you can read: Mediterranean diet


What can you eat in the Nordic diet?

The basis of nutrition in the Scandinavian diet is dark bread with wholemeal flour, very rich in fiber, which resembles pumpernickel.In Denmark, it is called smorrebrod, and in Sweden vollkornbrot.As one of the few nations in Europe, the Scandinavians eat very small amounts of poultry.They definitely choose venison more often.Forests, unspoiled nature and low population density make Scandinavians enjoy this noble meat – much less fatty and caloric than pork.In addition to meat, the important role in the Nordic diet is taken by fish – mainly fatty fish rich in very healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have a positive effect on the lipid profile and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.Fish are also a good source of vitamin D, iodine and selenium.Deficiencies of vitamin D are common among northern societies (including Poland) especially in autumn and winter, when the amount of sunlight is small.In the Nordic diet, animal fats are replaced with vegetable oils, mainly rapeseed oil, and low-fat dairy products are also used.

Vitamin D3

The seeds of legumes, vegetables and fruits also play a very important role in the Scandinavian diet.Consumption of small portions of meat favors more frequent incorporation of pulses into the meals.Vegetables also appear in the Nordic diet often.Due to the very friendly climate, these are mainly root vegetables, like carrots and beets, as well as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cucumbers.Pickled vegetables are often used.Potatoes also appear in large quantities.Berries – blueberries and blackberries are added not only to cakes and desserts, but also a very important element of meat sauces, mainly venison.Seasonal apples, pears and plums are also popular.

Not only the type of products in the Nordic diet, but also their origin influences the health-promoting effect of this method of nutrition.In the Nordic diet it is recommended to use products from wild, uninhabited regions, which means that plants are not contaminated, and animals feed in their natural way.It all improves the quality of food.In addition, the diet is also a lifestyle.The Nordic diet assumes eating in a calm, friendly atmosphere, with due attention, without overeating.Daily light physical activity is also important.

Variations of the Scandinavian diet

The Nordic diet is a diet of three different nationalities of the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians.Their kitchens derive from the same tradition, however, regional differences are visible.

The Danes cook the most modern.They combine traditional flavors with spices and other kitchen products.Still, most of the dishes are served with potatoes, and vegetables include marinated cucumbers, cabbage and beets.Bread is used very often as a base of sandwiches, eg with marinated pork or liver pate.Danes delicacy are salted, marinated and smoked herrings, as well as sylte – a kind of meat jelly prepared on the basis of the head.

Swedes are known primarily from the Swedish table, as well as from simple, healthy dishes.The tables are dominated by herring, mackerel and flounder fish.Herring is processed in various ways.They are ground in lactic acid, seasoned with salt and sugar, served in sour cream or mustard.Swedes are eager for food from crayfish and shrimps.They also drink a lot of milk.

Norway is mainly associated with salmon.The traditional dish is gravlax – salmon marinated in salt, sugar and dill.Salmon is served raw, smoked and marinated.The controversy is aroused by rakfish – fermented trout produced according to traditional methods.The addition to dishes is most often fried potatoes with added sugar and pickled vegetables.


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Scandinavian diet in scientific research

The propagator of the Scandinavian diet is Professor Arne Astrup from the University of Copenhagen who developed the principles of the New Scandinavian Diet based on research conducted by his team in 2009-2013.He proved that the diet of the people living in the northern countries has a positive effect on their health.Scandinavians belong to the healthiest nations, and additionally Swedes – to the longest-lived.The average age in this country is 80 years.

The research published by the Nordic Center for Food, Nutrition and Health (so-called SysDiet) shows that the Scandinavian diet helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 200 people participated in the study, divided into two groups.One of them used the Nordic diet and the second one – a conventional one.The experience lasted from 18 to 24 weeks.In people using the Nordic diet there has been a reduction in the level of bad LDL cholesterol and an increase in good HDL.The absorption of vitamins and minerals has also improved.

In 2010, the Journal of Internal Medicine published the results of the NORDIET study, which assessed the impact of the Nordic diet on risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases in people with hypercholesterolemia.The study involved women and men aged 25 to 65 years, with BMI 20-31 (from normal to grade I).Participants were divided into two groups.One used the Scandinavian diet, the other was asked to feed in the usual way.After 6 weeks of using the Scandinavian diet, there was a reduction in LDL cholesterol, insulin levels, lowering of blood pressure and weight loss.

Based on the data collected over 12 years, a study was published in which nutritional habits, anthropometric indicators (measurement of height and weight, waist and hip circumferences) and a lifestyle of approximately 57 000 Danes were evaluated.The healthiness of the diet of individual people was assessed based on the content of products typical of the Nordic diet.Health-promoting products include rye bread, porridge, fish, root vegetables, cabbage, apples and pears

The health-promoting effect of the Scandinavian diet is not only guesses and fashion, but facts confirmed by research.Her recommendations seem friendly and relatively simple to use for people in our geographical region, which is why she can be a serious competitor to the Mediterranean diet, which until now has been considered the healthiest diet in Europe.


You can read also: Should you eliminate dairy products from your diet?


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