During a recent visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, accredited practising dietitian and self-confessed ‘‘superfood lover’’ Sarah Leung trialled this way of eating and chats to us about the results.
What does the Nordic diet involve?
The main aim of the New Nordic Diet is to promote health and wellbeing as well as individual and environmental sustainability. The New Nordic Diet is basically about eating more vegetables and seasonal organic food from the region
The University of Copenhagen partnered with renowned restaurants in Denmark to develop more than 300 recipes that are delicious and are Nordic ingredient based. These experts also developed the following 10 fundamental principles:
- More fruit and vegetables every day (lots more: berries, cabbages, root vegetables, legumes, potatoes and herbs).
- More whole grain, especially oats, rye and barley
- More food from the sea and lakes
- Higher-quality meat, but less of it
- More food from wild landscapes
- Organic produce whenever possible
- Avoiding food additives
- More meals based on seasonal produce
- More home-cooked food
- Less waste
What are the health benefits of following such a diet?
Large scale ongoing research and studies to measure the effectiveness of The New Nordic Diet have been carried out since 2009.
One study compared weight loss and body fat loss between two groups over 12 weeks (a New Nordic Diet group and an Average Danish Diet group). The study found the group who ate the NND had more body weight loss compared to the ADD group despite no significant energy intake difference.
Is this diet practiced by a certain cultural group already, like the Mediterranean diet?
Danes still love their traditional foods (think porridge, smørrebrød or open sandwiches and the classic roast pork with crackling washed down with beer). It’s fair to say that the New Nordic Diet has dramatically changed Danish gastronomy and created an entirely new focus on local ingredients.
We have been hearing appraisals of the Mediterranean fish, olive oil, nuts and vegetable based diet for some time now. What are the differences between the two?
The ‘Mediterranean Diet’ has gained a lot of publicity over the past five years, for highlighting how eating healthy fats (such as those found in fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds) can promote heart health. In several ways, The New Nordic Diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, but there are some differences. These variances largely reflect the differences in each region’s produce, climate and geography. For example, the New Nordic Diet relies on rapeseed (canola) oil; while the Mediterranean Diet favours olive oil…There is also an abundance of tomatoes in the Mediterranean region, but few tomatoes in Nordic countries.
Does the Nordic diet trump this one in terms of ageing and longevity and overall wellbeing?
There is no research that directly compares the New Nordic Diet to a Mediterranean diet. However, it’s safe to say that both diets promote a sustainable and a healthy style of living. Here in Australia, we may find it difficult subscribing to some of the Nordic Diets fundamental principles (e.g. more food from wild landscapes). However, a diet that’s predominantly plant based and promotes whole grains, fish, lean meats and unsaturated vegetable oils over added sugars, refined grains and highly processed foods can be easily maintained in any country.
What are some simple dishes that adhere to this diet?
While in Denmark recently, I trialled some recipes (including a delicious salad and fish chowder using cold smoked cod)