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What Can You Eat in the Nordic Diet?

Written by
Asna Fatma
and medically reviewed by Sumiya Sulthana

Published on Jun 09, 2022 and last reviewed on Jun 30, 2022   -  5 min read


The Nordic diet refers to the diet followed in the nordic region. It typically focuses on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods.


The Nordic diet is getting a lot of attention from dieticians and nutritionists globally due to its various health benefits of the diet. Although it is most commonly used for weight loss, this diet has health benefits beyond just losing weight. The Nordic diet is found to be more helpful and beneficial when it is followed as a part of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. This diet was originally started in the Nordic countries, and it is heavily inspired by the history of food culture in that region. Although the modern-day Nordic diet has food elements incorporated that were originally not a part of it (for example, the use of canola oils), the main idea behind the diet plan remains the same, which is the use of locally grown plant-based nutrition along with fresh fruits and healthy seafood.

What Is the Nordic Diet?

The Nordic diet, also referred to as the “Scandinavian diet,” is essentially a diet followed by the people of the Nordic region. The countries that are considered a part of the Nordic region include Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. The Nordic diet emphasizes consuming food that is locally and readily available in the Nordic region. The Nordic food diet is related to the food traditions of the region that goes way back into history. However, the “Nordic diet” was formulated in the year 2004 by a group of dieticians, nutrition experts, scientists, and chefs after they noticed the benefits of this diet.

The diet basically focuses on locally sourced food from the Nordic countries, and it has a considerably low amount of sugar and fat incorporated in it as compared to the usual western diet. The Nordic diet is often compared to the Mediterranean diet because both of these diets include eating whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods. However, there is one major difference between the two diets, and that is the oil used in them. The Nordic diet advocates the use of canola oil, whereas the Mediterranean diet uses olive oil (extra-virgin).

What Is the History of the Nordic Diet?

The Nordic diet is directly derived from the Nordic food culture history. The Nordic food culture, back in the days, revolved around one principal goal, and that was survival. The people of these countries tried consuming whatever was readily available in the region for survival.

There were primarily three factors that shaped the diet, and that included:

The climate had a big impact on this diet, the Nordic region experiences extremely long and cold winters that influenced the diet in many ways. The practice of cold preservation of food in this region also started due to the climatic conditions. The Nordic people also developed a lifestyle that has an appreciation for nature and developed the lifestyle around it. The Nordic countries, by virtue of their geography, are isolated from the rest of the world; therefore, this fact also played a key role in developing a food culture that sourced locally grown foods. The whole food culture in the Nordic region was based on the storage economy.

Is Nordic Diet Healthy?

The Nordic food diet has been found to be extremely healthy because it encourages the consumption of nutritious foods and avoids unhealthy food. In fact, due to its various health benefits, the diet is being voluntarily followed by people all around the world and not just in the Nordic region.

In addition, the diet is also widely employed for weight loss and developing a healthy lifestyle. The Nordic diet is filled with fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables; therefore, it is extremely high on the health scale because this plant-based nutrition has a great number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers in them.

What Are the Foods Eaten in a Nordic Diet?

The Nordic diet emphasizes the use of whole grains, plant-based nutrition, locally sourced fresh fruits, vegetables, etc. All of these help in long-term sustainability. The foods that should be consumed while following a Nordic diet are:

  • Whole grains like rye, barley, oats, and wheat.

  • Fresh fruits, especially berries and apples (because they are readily available in the Nordic countries).

  • Vegetables like cabbage, leeks, turnips, and carrots.

  • Legumes (beans and peas).

  • Low-fat dairy items.

  • Fatty fish and seafood.

  • Canola oil (good for reducing heart diseases).

  • Food items like eggs, cheese, and wild animal meat (game meat) should be consumed in moderation.

What Are the Foods Avoided in the Nordic Diet?

The Nordic diet mainly focuses on avoiding food that is unhealthy and has a high-fat content in them. The food items that should be avoided while following a Nordic diet are:

  • Processed sugar.

  • Processed meat.

  • Fast food.

  • Food that has a high salt content.

  • Sweetened beverages.

  • Food additives.

  • Red meat other than game meat should be eaten occasionally.

  • Animal source fat should also be eaten rarely.

  • Avoid any food that has saturated fat.

What Are the Benefits of the Nordic Diet?

There are multiple health benefits of the Nordic diet which include:

  • Weight Loss: Healthy eating goes beyond weight loss and which is exactly what the Nordic diet practices. The Nordic diet has been found to be helpful in losing a considerable amount of weight in a short span. However, this weight might bounce back once the diet plan is stopped; therefore, it is important to incorporate the Nordic diet as a part of a sustainable lifestyle rather than a crash diet to lose weight.

  • Blood Pressure: Several aspects of the Nordic diet can aid in reducing blood pressure. The Nordic diet emphasizes on consumption of berries like blueberry and strawberries, and these berries are a good source of anthocyanins which is a chemical that can lower blood pressure and make the blood vessels more flexible. The Nordic diet also encourages eating more plant-based nutrition and avoiding animal-based fat; this again helps in reducing blood pressure.

  • Cholesterol: The Nordic diet plan has been helpful in lowering cholesterol levels. The diet is rich in whole grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, etc., all of which help in lowering cholesterol levels. Canola oil, which is also commonly used in the Nordic diet, has a good amount of alpha-linolenic acid, which is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in reducing triglyceride levels, blood sugar, and the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.

  • Inflammation: The Nordic diet plays a major role in reducing inflammation. Many studies have shown that the Nordic diet has been helpful in bringing down the CRP (C-reactive protein), which increases the presence of inflammation in the body.

  • Diabetes: The Nordic diet encourages avoiding eating processed and refined sugar, which is helpful in reducing the blood sugar levels in the body.

How Does Nordic Diet Help the Environment?

Apart from being an amazing weight loss diet and a healthy lifestyle, the Nordic diet has the bonus advantage of being easy on the environment. The cornerstone of the Nordic diet is the use of home-grown, locally sourced fruits and vegetables which ultimately reduces energy consumption and food wastage. The Nordic diet is majorly plant-based; therefore, it uses less natural resources like water and fossil fuels, and it also creates less pollution.


The Nordic diet is a simple yet effective diet plan inspired by the history of Nordic food culture. Although it is popular as a diet, it should rather be practiced as a lifestyle. The diet is helpful in reducing weight, regulating blood sugar levels, controlling blood pressure, reducing inflammation, etc. Along with conserving the environment and boosting the economy because of the use of locally sourced, home-grown plant-based nutrition. Although this diet was invented by the Nordic people, it can be easily modified and practiced in any country and by anyone. However, the only point that should be considered is to follow the core principles of the diet.


Last reviewed at:
30 Jun 2022  -  5 min read




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