The so-called Mediterranean diet is the gold standard of healthy eating, but experts explain that there is another meal plan that’s just as nutrient-dense.
The Nordic diet emphasizes high amounts of fruits, berries, vegetables, whole grains, fish and game, and low amounts of dairy products, meat and poultry.
The key is to eat seasonal foods in cold weather, such as berries in the spring, curries in the summer and chard in the winter. Small amounts of saturated fat and processed meats are allowed in moderation.
The Nordic diet emphasizes a high intake of fruits, berries, vegetables, whole grain products, fish and game, and sweets, dairy products, meat and poultry. It’s a healthy choice and can be a very cheap way to live if you’re smart about it.
Lola Biggs, nutritionist at natural health supplement brand TogetherHealth (togetherhealth.co.uk), suggests that both the Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet include a good amount of omega-rich, heart-healthy fish such as sardines.
What does the Nordic diet consist of?
- Vegetables: carrots, cabbage, cabbage, radish, green beans
- Fruits and vegetables: apple, pear, plum, blueberry, lingonberry
- Unthreshed wheat: oats, whole grain wheat, oats, barley
- Fish: salmon, trout, cod
- Grains: beans, peas and lentils
- unsaturated fatsNuts, seeds, canola oil, fatty fish
She explained that the differences are found in the types of fruits, vegetables and fish.
The Nordic diet includes very tasty foods grown in cold climates, such as beans, carrots and turnips, fruits including plums, apples and berries, and fish such as herring.
This diet includes dairy products (kefur) and many dairy foods, such as milk, which can provide good gut-friendly probiotic bacteria.
A typical Mediterranean diet uses more tropical climates and antioxidant-rich foods such as figs, watermelon, aubergines, juicy ripe tomatoes, and red peppers.
“Both diets are generally healthier because they limit processed foods and fats,” Lola says. One of the biggest differences between the two diets is the oil they use.
The Mediterranean diet uses extra virgin olive oil, while the Nordic diet uses canola oil from the rapeseed plant. Both are excellent sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and good cholesterol.’
Lola added: ‘Also being balanced, mostly whole grains, beans or lentils and creating meals that can be versatile and cheap can be affordable.’
The Nordic and Mediterranean diets have many similarities, as they both rely on plant-based foods that include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as grains, nuts, and legumes.
How to eat Nordic
The main thing to remember when starting the Nordic diet is in season. Seasonal food, in theory, is grown, picked and sold at the peak of the season.
That means it tends to retain most of its health benefits, and has fewer growing agents. It’s also at the peak of supply, so it’s cheaper for farmers – and, therefore, cheaper for you.
Cut prepared foods
Tamara Wiener, nutritionist at NHS-backed healthy eating plan Second Nature, says the biggest benefit of the Nordic diet is that it excludes highly processed foods such as cakes, pastries, chocolate and fizzy drinks.
How to work on a budget
Root vegetables are cheap
Seasonal vegetables are cheaper because they are not imported. If you have the space and time, it’s also worth thinking about growing your own produce.
Winter vegetables recommended in the Nordic diet, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli, are less expensive than summer vegetables.
Use your refrigerator
If you buy seasonally, you can stretch your money further, so why not buy summer fruits in bulk and then freeze them for the winter.
Freezing fruits and vegetables is a good method, because the product contains vitamins and minerals.
Think canned fish
Canned fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are great tasting choices.
Provide the same healthy omega 3 fats you need at a much lower price. It is also worth thinking about frozen fish.
Consider your carbs
This year, the price of pasta has increased by 50 percent, so it is important to think about other types of carbohydrates.
The Nordic diet champions whole grains, beans/lentils, and herbs, all of which are high in fiber, keep you fuller longer, and are less expensive.
‘Any diet that excludes these foods and focuses on building foods from whole foods will be a healthier alternative to the average Western diet,’ she says.
Embrace processed foods
Scandinavia is known for brewing. The first evidence of fermentation was found on the east coast of Sweden between 3000 BC and 6000 BC.
Fermented foods are currently receiving a lot of attention from nutritionists due to their relationship with gut health.
Tamara explains: ‘Our gut has a huge population of gut microbes that feed on the food we eat and produce lots of bacteria.
‘As a good general rule of thumb, the more variety of plant-based foods we eat, the happier our gut will be (unless you suffer from IBS or follow a low FODMAP diet).’
From processed fish to processed milk, there are many options. Sweden has a fermented milk called filmjölk, similar to yogurt, and in Iceland they have skyr.
Other fermented foods include sahara, pickles, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and yogurt.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein and low in saturated fat, processed red meat, added sugar, and sodium has been shown to have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. , obesity and diabetes -2.
Signe explains: ‘Choosing unsaturated fat sources (such as nuts, seeds, fatty fish) over saturated fat sources (cream, butter and other animal fats) lowers LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels – and thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Proteins (found in fish and legumes) are important for many body functions, such as cell growth, the immune system, and enzymes.
“By reducing the intake of processed red meat, as well as fatty animal protein sources, and choosing instead, lean protein sources (fish, poultry) or plant-based options (tofu, beans or lentils), you can reduce some of the risk of cancer.”
He added: “The Nordic diet offers a wide variety of foods without any strict restrictions, which are key to a sustainable way of eating.
‘Having extreme restrictions or restricted foods in one’s diet is only a short-term lifestyle, not a sustainable one.’