The Nordic Diet: What It Is and Is It Right For You?

The U.S. News and World Report is known for ranking everything from colleges to cars every year, and diets are no exception. Each diet is evaluated in many categories, including weight–loss, general health benefits, and how easy the diet is to follow. 

In 2021, many familiar diets, like the Mediterranean and Flexitarian, graced the list. But coming in at number nine was the Nordic diet, a program that’s less popular than other contenders on the list.

So, what is the Nordic diet, exactly?  It’s focused on healthy whole foods and is mostly plant–centric. Followers of the diet focus on eating plant–based foods and wild seafood in place of refined grains and meats. It’s also low in added sugars and processed foods and is designed to be more environmentally–friendly than other eating plans. All in all, it’s a very wholesome way of eating.

The Nordic diet has skyrocketed in popularity in its countries of origin, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. Research suggests that the Nordic diet is on par with the well–documented Mediterranean diet, partially due to the similarities between the two. Both feature anti–inflammatory foods high in omega–3 fats and include a lot of fruits and vegetables. 

However, there’s one notable difference between the two diets: while the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional ways of eating in the Mediterranean region, the Nordic diet was created by a group of experts in Copenhagen as part of a deliberate effort to improve public health. Though the diet does feature regional fare, the foods were selected on the basis of their positive health benefits and low environmental impact. Therefore, many traditional Nordic and Scandinavian foods did not make the cut.  

So, how do you know whether this diet is right for you? Let’s list the pros. 

  1. 1. Nutrition and Health Benefits

    Like the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet includes a lot of nutritionally dense foods. Small quantities of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide plenty of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Colorful berries offer antioxidants, and fatty fish like salmon or tuna provide omega–3s. All of the major food groups are represented within the diet, with whole foods being stressed in particular; more often than not, they’re healthier than their processed alternatives.

    As for health benefits, research shows that the Nordic diet can lower blood pressure, and it has also been linked to reduced risk for strokes and heart attacks. 

  2. 2. Sustainability

    Not only is the Nordic diet sustainable in terms of being beneficial for the environment, it’s also a relatively easy lifestyle change. It includes many familiar foods and isn’t overly restrictive. There’s also no measuring or counting calories; instead, the diet just involves sticking to the recommended foods and eating other foods in moderation.

    The reason there are no strict rules when it comes to the Nordic diet is that it’s not intended to be a weight loss plan. Instead, it focuses on creating habits that are beneficial to both the environment and your health. Therefore, there is quite a bit of room for interpretation.

    However, though the diet has many benefits, it also has its cons. 

  3. 3. Cost and Practicality

    Fish and organic produce can be expensive, as well as challenging to find — even if you live somewhere where seafood and organic farms are plentiful. These food items also tend to cost more than conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables and inexpensive cuts of meats.

    Finding and preparing these foods can also take a lot of time. Since the diet recommends cutting out processed foods, you’ll have to prepare most of your food at home. On top of that, the diet’s creators recommend that you consume meals in a leisurely and mindful manner, which adds more challenge if you’re short on time. 

If you’re looking for a diet plan that’s designed to be good for the planet and your general health, the Nordic diet may be the lifestyle change for you. It’s nutritious and has many health benefits, though the expense of sourcing specific foods and ingredients may put this out of reach for some.

It’s important to keep in mind that diets are more than tools for weight loss. If done right, they can help you be a responsible consumer and a healthier version of yourself. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors are also key in determining your overall health.

The best diet is one that’s balanced and best fits your personal lifestyle. Although the Nordic diet could aid you in your weight loss goals, choosing it solely based on this metric wouldn’t be the most beneficial choice for you. The Nordic diet is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Considering your nutritional needs, genetics, budget, and goals, it may or may not be right for you.