The New Nordic Diet has been gaining traction as a strong contender against the Mediterranean Diet as one of the healthiest diets on Earth, particularly in the prevention of chronic disease.
What is the New Nordic Diet?
The New Nordic Diet was developed in 2012 as a collaboration between experts in nutrition, gastronomy and the environment, among other disciplines. The diet focuses on health, gastronomic potential and Nordic identity, and sustainability.
A great emphasis in gastronomy and the enjoyment of food was placed on the development of the Nordic guidelines, not coincidentally after Denmark’s Noma was named top 1 restaurant in the world by the prestigious San Pellegrino list. Before then, Nordic cuisine was generally regarded as bland and boring; however, the general consensus at the moment is that Nordic cuisine has many exciting flavours to offer.
Guidelines for the New Nordic Diet
The New Nordic Diet is based on 3 simple guidelines (1):
- More calories from plant foods and fewer from meat. Increasing the amount of legumes,
vegetables, fruit, grains, potatoes, nuts, herbs, etc. as a means to prevent chronic disease and increase sustainability of the diet.
- More foods from the sea and lakes, because these foods are abundant in the region and contain beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iodine and selenium.
- More foods from the wild countryside, such as plants, mushrooms, berries, fruits and meat. The argument here is that foraged foods are not only generally healthier but also more sustainable.
Composition of the New Nordic Diet
The New Nordic Diet advocates the daily intake of (2):
- Fruits: at least 300g
- Berries: 50-100g
- Vegetables: at least 400g
- Cabbages: at least 29g
- Root vegetables: at least 150g
- Legumes: at least 30g
- Fresh herbs: as much as possible
- Potatoes: at least 140g
- Plants and mushrooms from the wild countryside: 5g
- Whole grains: at least 75g
- Nuts: at least 30g
- Fish and shellfish: at least 43g
- Seaweed: 5g
- Free-range livestock (including pigs and poultry): 85-100g
- Game: at least 4g
- Milk: 500g
- Cheese: 25g
- Eggs: 25g
The average macronutrient composition is 17% of total energy intake from protein, 32% from fat (of which 10% should be saturated, 13% monounsaturated and 8% polyunsaturated) and 51% from carbohydrates, which should provide 41g of fibre. There is room for 1% of energy intake from alcohol and 4% from refined sugars.
Is the New Nordic Diet healthy?
There is no doubt that a diet following the above recommendations has the potential to be anti-inflammatory and prevent chronic disease for most people.
I like the fact that it explicitly includes cabbages, seaweed and free-range livestock. Cabbages (and all other cruciferous vegetables) are important for detoxification and rich in fibre. Seaweed is an important source of iodine and other minerals. Free-range livestock are raised in a more humane way and are likely to have a healthier nutrient composition.
New Nordic Food
This is a government initiative to promote the gastronomy of Nordic countries, which I think most governments should do. Head to www.newnordicfood.org to learn more.
- Mithril C, et al. Guidelines for the New Nordic Diet. Public Health Nutr. 2012 Oct;15(10):1941-7.
- Mithril C, et al. Dietary composition and nutrient content of the New Nordic Diet. Public Health Nutr. 2013 May;16(5):777-85.