Nordic diet lowers cholesterol, glucose

March 19, 2022 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Nordic diet lowers cholesterol, glucose

Berries, veggies, fish, whole grains and rapeseed oil. These are the main ingredients of the Nordic diet that, for the past decade, have been recognized as very healthy, tasty and sustainable.

The diet has been shown to prevent obesity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Until now, the Nordic diet’s positive health benefits have primarily been linked to weight loss.

Now, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have shown that a Nordic diet has positive health benefits, regardless of whether or not one loses weight.

About the study

Researchers from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland examined blood and urine samples from 200 people over the age of 50, all with elevated BMI and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The participants were divided into two groups – one who ate according to Nordic dietary recommendations and a control group who followed their usual diet. Participants were monitored for six months.

Nordic diet benefits

The group following the Nordic diet for six months had lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood fats and better regulation of blood sugar, compared to the control group. The researchers kept the group on the Nordic diet weight stable, meaning they asked them to eat more calories if they lost weight. Even without weight loss, the researchers found an improvement in their health.

The researchers pointed to the unique composition of fats in a Nordic diet as a possible explanation for the significant health benefits.

By analyzing participants’ blood samples, they found that those who benefited most from the Nordic diet had different blood fats, fats that appear to be linked to unsaturated fast from oils in the Nordic diet.

Fats in the Nordic diet

Fish and flaxseed, sunflower and rapeseed oils are the major sources of fat in the Nordic diet. While they seem to  provide a beneficial mix of fats for the body, the researchers cannot yet explain why these fats seem to lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The fat composition in the Nordic diet, which is higher in omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats (versus saturated fats), may be part of the explanation for the health effects of the Nordic diet, even when the weight of participants remains constant, the researchers said.

Nordic nutrition recommendations

These dietary recommendations, adapted to the Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, were adopted in 2012 and will be updated this year. The diet is based on ingredients that are produced locally and are thereby sustainable.

Recommended foods include vegetables such as peas, beans, cabbage, onions and root vegetables, as well as fruits, including apples, pears, plums and berries.

Also recommended are nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, and shellfish, as well as vegetable oils made from rapeseed, sunflower or flaxseed. Finally, low-fat dairy products are also recommended, as well as a significantly smaller proportion of meat than currently consumed.

Source: Clinical Nutrition, February 1, 2022.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.