Harvard Heart Letter

The Nordic diet: A northern twist to the Mediterranean diet


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With a focus on whole grains, berries, and fish, Northern European cuisine has some heart-friendly features.

If you've never heard of the Nordic diet, you might imagine a plate of those Swedish meatballs sold at Ikea. In fact, this eating style focuses on healthier fare, including an abundance of the plant-based foods nutritionists always encourage us to eat. And while the data are limited so far, some studies suggest that following a Nordic eating pattern may foster weight loss and lower blood pressure—both of which are good for the heart.

As the name suggests, the Nordic diet features foods that are locally sourced or traditionally eaten in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Developed in 2004 in collaboration with the acclaimed Copenhagen gourmet restaurant Noma, the diet emphasizes the use of seasonal, healthy, regional foods. (It doesn't necessarily represent how most Scandinavians eat on a daily basis, however.)

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