This diet is easier (and cheaper) than the Mediterranean diet

The Nordic Diet has been studied to promote weight loss and it champions food that is locally sourced and sustainably farmed.

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The Mediterranean Diet has enjoyed quite the banner year.

The most recent development might have occurred during a presentation at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2019 annual meeting just this May. There, researchers motioned that adherence to the fruit and legumes rich diet can protect against the development of symptoms of depression in old age. Each unit intake increase of the most popular element of the diet, (vegetables) was associated with a 20% lower increase of instances of the mental illness. Researchers at Washington University seconded this finding, adding, that the omega three fatty acids featured in the Mediterranean diet,  have been shown to yield concrete reductions to depressive moods. According to the authors, individuals that adhere to the diet are 33% less likely to develop depression.


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 Michelle Qaqundah recently wrote up a paper that got published in the Natural Journal of Medicine, positing that the Mediterranean diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and even cancer. “The [study] found a 17% and 12% decreased cancer mortality in men and women following the Mediterranean diet after five years of follow-up,” Qaqundah concluded in the report.

A hard act to follow no doubt, but as far as The World Health Organization is concerned, there, in fact, looms a worthy contender.

The diet is in the details

The Nordic Diet is the brainchild of a team of scientists, nutritionists and chefs birthed back in 2004 as a method of mitigating a growing obesity trend in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. Although many experts have already pointed out that some of the foods featured in the diet weren’t actually around when the ancient Nords reigned, the fundamental personality of the diet is based on the produce intake adopted by the Scandanavians.

Already, in its young life, it has been studied to promote weight loss, without restricting calorie intake. Moreover, because the diet champions food that is locally sourced and sustainably farmed, votaries also get to pride themselves on being environmentally conscious.  The rules are simple enough: eat a ton of berries, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rye, breads, fish, seafood,  low-fat dairy, herbs spices, and canola oil (more on that one in a bit). Occasionally eat free-range eggs,  cheese, and yogurt, eat red meat and animal fats even less, and steer resolutely clear of sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, food additives, and refined fast foods.  Simply put, the Nordic Diet is a critique of the excessive sugar and fat intake of the western diet, with double the fiber and seafood to boot.

You might be having a hard time distinguishing between what I just described and the Mediterranean diet. It’s true, the differences are subtle, but the World Health Organization believes the tenous contrasts deserve our consideration.

Firstly, the biggest difference has to be The Nordic Diet’s privilege of canola and rapeseed oil, two departures from the Meddereennean diet’s love of olive oil. Canola and rapeseed oil are super rich in monosaturated fats which are known to promote heart health.  Also, the diet’s origin means its contents, are primarily foods that can grow in colder climates, think kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc.

Save a little dough (but don’t eat dough)

By and large seasonal produce is more affordable than fruits that are out of season. Vegetables are the nucleus of the diet. Instead of greens being chosen to accommodate the meat, The Nordic Diet operates in reverse. A diet that sees foods like broccoli, cabbage, and berries headline main courses will by default be much cheaper than the western diet which red meat heavy, and even the Mediterranean diet which favors the typically pricier fish. It should also be noted that the Nordic Diet accepts canned fish and frozen veggie and fruits into its regimen. Seasonal produce is cheaper, canned fish is cheaper, frozen fruits are cheaper, The Nordic Diet is cheaper.

For these discrepancies, however insignificant they may seem, The World Health Organization has officially endorsed the Nordic Diet as the optimal diet over the Mediterranean diet for people looking to lose weight on a budget. A bold claim, against a diet that has gained so much acclaim in recent years. However,  in WHO’s defense, just last year an 82-year-old woman suffering from dementia claimed to regain her memory after adhering to a diet that is eerily similar to the Nordic Diet.

Sylvia Hatzner claims that after eating berries, leafy vegetables, kale, spinach broccoli, sweet potatoes, oats and abstaining from fatty and processed foods her condition drastically improved. Her, son Mark Hatnzer, would also engage in cognitive task with his mother, the both of them allowing for the occasional treat of dark chocolate.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.