The Mediterranean. The DASH. Heart healthy diet options come in many forms and by many names. Now add the Nordic Diet.
“Although many people lose weight on the Nordic diet, the primary benefits center on controlling your blood pressure, while reducing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes risk factors,” says McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Dennis Lang. “Like many diets, the Nordic model starts by removing many of the junk type foods – high sugar content from cereal or candy bars and high salt from prepared or fast foods – and replacing them with healthier alternatives.”
What does the Nordic Diet look like?
Eat fish — some lean and some fatty, such as salmon, herring and albacore tuna. Red meat can be eaten – but only in moderation.
Whole grain breads are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Your body absorbs the carbohydrates more slowly than those made from processed flours.
Berries become snacks in themselves or an embellishment to something like a dish of oatmeal. Berry plants generate chemicals that aid in lowering blood pressure and making blood vessels more pliable.
Beans or legumes — such as peas and lentils — contain iron, zinc, calcium and other nutrients.
Carrots and potatoes – yes, potatoes – add fiber to your diet, along with certain nutrients that can help fight infection and lower your cholesterol. Potatoes can be high in calories. So, moderate your consumption and don’t add butter and sour cream. Other so-called root vegetables, such as yams, turnips and red beets, make good diet additions. Because root vegetables grow underground, they soak up a lot of nutrients from the soil.
Nuts are a source of fiber and unsaturated fats as well as antioxidants and vitamin E.
One Big Difference
The Nordic and Mediterranean diets share many similarities. At least one difference exists. While the Mediterranean diet emphasizes its region’s olive oil over butter, the Nordic diet prefers canola oil, which ironically was developed from the rapeseed plant in Canada, not any of the Nordic countries.
Actions You Can Take
Following the Nordic Diet won’t make you a Viking. But your bones and immune system will get their vitamin D, your brain and heart will benefit from omega 3 fatty acids and your muscles will derive the needed protein.
Buying local produce in season can offer freshness and variety to your diet. Ask your cardiologist for other diet changes that can keep your heart and body healthy.
Sources include: McLeod Health, World Helath Organization, Culinary Institute of America, National Institutes of Health, Prevention Magazine, Harvard Health