The kind of food that usually comes into mind when you think about a Viking diet is red meat—lots and lots of red meat. This is all thanks to the way Vikings are portrayed in TV shows and movies.
However, the Viking diet—now more commonly referred to as the Nordic diet—is actually the exact opposite of this. You might even be surprised at how healthy and beneficial the diet is for you.
To know more about this unexpected diet, read on.
What is a Nordic Diet?
With traditional and historical roots, a group of professionals who wanted to address the growing obesity issue in the Nordic countries created the Nordic diet in 2004. The Nordic diet features a variety of locally-sourced foods that are healthy, packed with fiber, and contain less sugar and fat.
As the word Nordic suggests, the diet specifically targeted people from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland and used foods they could easily find within their area. Considering that they have a different climate compared to other regions, sustainability and convenience were two important factors.
Since it's a diet, there is a strict list of foods you can consume and the frequency you can consume them. Foods like fruits, vegetables, potatoes, seeds, seafood, fish, and whole grains can be consumed frequently.
Cheese, yogurt, eggs, quail, goose, rabbit, and duck can be consumed occasionally. Red meats like beef and pork should be consumed rarely. Sweets and processed foods should not be consumed at all.
Given the food list, the Nordic diet is often compared to the Mediterranean diet since both feature similar foods and in what is considered an acceptable amount. The primary difference between is two lies with the type of oil(s) used to season and cook the food with.
Nordic diets use grapeseed or canola oil since it's locally sourced. Mediterranean diets, on the other hand, use olive oil.
Health Benefits of a Nordic Diet
From the list of foods you could consume in the previous section, it's a no-brainer that the diet is indeed beneficial for everyone, not just those who live in that region.
Since it's primarily a plant-based diet, it's also very user-friendly for those who are leaning towards veganism or vegetarianism. However, flexitarians—those who consume meat from time to time—can also consider this diet a perfect alternative.
Below are some additional benefits the Nordic diet offers and are worth exploring.
Promotes Weight Loss
Several studies have proven that following the Nordic diet does promote weight loss. Weight loss happens even for those who don't pay close attention to the calories they've consumed.
However, when it comes to diets like these, you often get better results when you're mindful about portions and calories and still follow a workout program to aid in losing weight. While it could be beneficial on its own, even more, desirable results are expected with a little additional effort.
Lower Risk for Colon Cancer
Following a Nordic diet lowers the risk for colon cancer since it includes foods rich in fiber. Foods rich in fiber promote better bowel movements, which, in turn, reduces your risk of developing colon cancer.
It also lowers the risk for developing hemorrhoids and diverticulitis, an inflammation and sometimes infection in one or more of the small pouches inside the digestive tract. Regular, daily trips to the bathroom aren't such a bad thing after all!
Lower Blood Pressure
Lower blood pressure is also a common benefit that Nordic diet followers enjoy. The main foods—fruits, vegetables, and lean meat—all aid in lowering blood pressure.
On top of that, on the Nordic diet, since you don't really consume red meat and sugary treats, following this diet will keep your blood pressure low and your entire body healthy.
Sustainable and Plant-Based Diet
If you're an advocate for sustainability, you'll be glad to know that this diet supports it. Apart from its traditional roots, it's also a diet created to utilize the currently available commodities.
Since the majority of the foods you can consume frequently are fruits, vegetables, and grains, you're easily consuming sustainable food. And while you are still allowed to consume limited quantities of meat, it's a way to reduce your consumption into a less guilt-inducing amount.
Good Source of Antioxidants and Nutrients
Common Nordic vegetables are broccoli, cabbage, peas, and cauliflower. Common Nordic fruits are typically berries. Both of these food groups bring all sorts of vitamins and minerals to the table and are exceptionally beneficial for your overall health.
Additionally, berries are high in antioxidants that reduce the risk for heart diseases and other forms of cancer, not just colon cancer.