Most people are aware of the beneficial affects of the Mediterranean diet in promoting good health but until now the Nordic diet has been seen as a bit of a fad made popular by restaurants like NOMA in Copenhagen. However, a recently published report by the World Health Organisation confirms that the Nordic diet is effective in warding off cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks and stroke) and diabetes. The Nordic diet has not been as extensively studied as the Mediterranean diet so we can’t say for certain whether it has the same anti-cancer properties.
The Nordic diet uses food traditionally sourced in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland but many of these foods are also readily available in the UK. Based on the “Baltic Sea diet pyramid’ the staples include fruits and berries, fatty fish (herrings, mackerel and salmon), lean fish, beans and pulses, root vegetables, cabbages and whole grain cereals such as barley, rye and oats. In addition, the Nordic diet is dependent on rapeseed oil rather than olive oil because oil seed rape grows well in the Northern European climate.
Many parts of the World (like the UK) benefit greatly from the diversity of foods, herbs and spices that are now grown locally or imported. So we can choose to take elements of the Nordic and Mediterranean diets to incorporate into our daily lives and reduce our risks of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The Busy Surgeon’s Nordic-ish Breakfast
Take a small handful of organic porridge oats and add some frozen blueberries to a bowl. Cover the oats with water and microwave for 1 minute and 10 seconds on high. Add some more water after microwaving if it is a bit dry and then crumble 3 walnut halves on top. Finally stir in a small spoonful of honey (raw honey if possible).
Guidelines for the New Nordic Diet from the Danish Ministry of Food Agriculture and Fisheries (2012)
- Eat more fruit and vegetables every day
- Eat more whole grain produce
- Eat more food from the seas and lakes
- Eat higher-quality meat, and less of it
- Eat more food from wild landscapes
- Eat organic produce wherever possible
- Avoid food additives
- Eat more meals based on seasonal produce
- Eat more home-cooked food
- Produce less waste