What is it and what can you eat? – Cleveland Clinic

It seems like there is a new diet invented every day. There are many options that have caught our attention, such as the flexitarian diet, the “100” diet or the fruitarian diet, to name a few.

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But if you’ve heard of the Nordic diet (also known as the Scandinavian diet), you might be curious what it is and if it’s just another fad diet.

The Nordic diet, which is based on principles that have been around for centuries, promotes a healthy way of eating by focusing on locally sourced wild fruits, vegetables and seafood.

registered dietitian Courtney Barth, RDexplains what the Nordic diet is, what foods it includes and if it may be right for you.

What is the Nordic diet?

Very similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet focuses on whole foods typically found in Nordic regions such as Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. You’ll be eating mostly plant-based, seasonal foods that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Think fruits (especially berries), vegetables, and seafood.

One difference, however, is the type of oil each diet uses. The Mediterranean diet focuses on the use of extra virgin olive oil, while the Nordic diet promotes canola oil. Canola oil has less saturated fat than extra virgin olive oil and can be used for cooking and baking at a higher temperature than olive oil. It should be noted that most of the canola oil available in the US is processed and lacks antioxidants compared to olive oil.

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“Overall, both are good healthy unsaturated anti-inflammatory oils,” Barth says.

The Nordic diet encourages people to consume less sugar and twice as much fiber and seafood as traditional Western diets.

benefits of the nordic diet

By focusing on eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables, the Nordic diet can affect your health in a positive way. Here are some potential benefits:

“For people who have arthritis or joint pain, incorporating more whole foods may be the way to further reduce inflammation,” says Barth.

food to eat

The Nordic diet encourages you to eat a lot of whole foods, especially locally sourced and seasonal, including:

  • Whole grains, especially rye, barley, and oats.
  • Fruits, especially berries.
  • Vegetables, especially root vegetables such as beets, turnips, and carrots.
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel.
  • Low-fat dairy products like Skyr yogurt.
  • vegetables

You should also eat the following in moderation:

  • Eggs.
  • Game meat such as venison, rabbit and bison.

“Game meat is a good source of lean protein and is lower in saturated fat compared to red meat, which should be eaten once or twice a week,” says Barth.

Foods to Avoid

Like many diets, the Nordic diet has a handful of foods that are either avoided or only rarely enjoyed.


  • Other red meats that are not game.
  • Alcoholic drinks.


  • Foods with added sugars.
  • Processed meats like bacon and bologna.
  • Foods with a high salt content such as cold cuts, dry pasta and bread.
  • Fast food.
  • Sugary drinks.

“Anything that’s really high in saturated fat and sugar is inflammatory to the body,” says Barth. “It makes the body stressed.”

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Is the Nordic diet right for you?

With a focus on eating locally sourced foods, following the Nordic diet can be a great way to try the local farmers’ markets in your area.

“Many of them will have a variety of stalls with farmers who harvest fruits and vegetables in season,” says Barth. “You can also ask your local supermarket if they have local produce and produce.”

For some, following the Nordic diet can be challenging due to the availability of local produce. It requires planning, so time and commitment can be a challenge for some. Since items like cranberries and blackberries aren’t available in the US, you may need to modify what you eat based on what’s available in your area.

But whether you focus on the local aspect of food procurement, the Nordic diet is a good roadmap for adopting a realistic eating pattern. It can even be modified for vegans and vegetarians by adding more plant-based foods to your diet.

“The Nordic diet approach is more of a guideline that can be really sustainable for someone,” says Barth. “It’s just the basics and not overthinking or complicating what you eat.”