Savouring the North: A Canadian Twist on the Mediterranean Diet

Cholesterol
Weight loss
Healthy eating
Femme avec yogourt granola live café - Woman with yogurt granola book coffee

Canada, with its four distinct seasons and bountiful nature, provides a rich foundation for a diet that's both nutritious and environmentally harmonious. Here, the Nordic diet, abundant in local produce, stands out as a healthy and viable choice.

What Is the Nordic Diet?

Topinambour - Jerusalem artichoke

Drawing inspiration from Scandinavian food practices, the Nordic diet emphasizes nutrient-rich, locally sourced foods with a minimal intake of processed products. Key components include (1):

  • Fruits and vegetables: berries, beets, cabbages, carrots, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and seaweeds.
  • Proteins: fatty fish (like salmon and herring), seafood, game meat, and legumes.
  • Starches: rye, barley, oats, potatoes, and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Fats: omega-3 rich canola oil, nuts, and seeds.

What Are the Health Benefits of the Nordic Diet?

Soupe de saumon - Salmon soup

Often compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet boasts several health benefits. Research (2,3) has shown its positive impact on weight loss without the need for calorie counting. It's also linked to reduced blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart diseases.

However, the effects on cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels are mixed, with some studies indicating benefits while others do not (4). Nonetheless, the proven advantages make it an appealing choice for Canadians, promoting healthy eating with local and seasonal products.

What Are the Environmental Advantages?

The Nordic diet isn't just about healthy eating; it also has significant environmental benefits. Focusing on local, seasonal foods cuts down on food imports and supports sustainable farming practices. Dietary choices like locally grown grains, sustainably sourced fish, and reduced red meat consumption help lower carbon footprint. For Canadians, adopting the Nordic diet means eating healthily and acting responsibly towards the environment.

How Can You Embrace the Nordic Diet?

Poisson grillé - Grilled fish

Embracing the Nordic diet means rediscovering the wealth of Canadian produce through simple, nourishing recipes that blend beneficial principles with familiar flavours. Meal ideas include:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal sprinkled with blueberries and maple syrup.
  • Green smoothie with spinach, green apple, and flax seeds.
  • Rye bread toast with a mushroom omelette.

Lunch:

  • Roasted beet salad with spelt pumpkin seeds, and apple cider vinegar dressing.
  • Lentil soup served with slices of rye bread.
  • Salmon wrap with crunchy vegetables and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Dinner:

  • En papillote cod fillet with a mix of barley and seasonal vegetables.
  • Herb-roasted chicken with a warm potato and Jerusalem artichoke salad.
  • Whole grain pasta with vegetables and seafood in a light béchamel sauce and hard cheese.

The Role of Your Dietitian Nutritionist

Navigating this dietary shift benefits from professional expertise. A dietitian nutritionist can create a personalized meal plan, ensuring all meals are balanced and catered to your needs.

If the idea of a diet inspired by the northern wilderness appeals to you, schedule an appointment with a dietitian nutritionist at TeamNutrition. Together, explore a dietary path that aligns not just with your health but also with Canadian environmental values.

 

References

  1. Mithril C, Dragsted LO, Meyer C, Tetens I, Biltoft-Jensen A, Astrup A. Dietary composition and nutrient content of the New Nordic Diet. Public Health Nutr. 2013 May;16(5):777-85. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012004521. Epub 2012 Oct 22. PMID: 23089239; PMCID: PMC10271429.
  2. Poulsen SK, Due A, Jordy AB, Kiens B, Stark KD, Stender S, Holst C, Astrup A, Larsen TM. Health effect of the New Nordic Diet in adults with increased waist circumference: a 6-mo randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jan;99(1):35-45. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.069393. Epub 2013 Nov 20. PMID: 24257725.
  3. Adamsson V, Reumark A, Fredriksson IB, Hammarström E, Vessby B, Johansson G, Risérus U. Effects of a healthy Nordic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolaemic subjects: a randomized controlled trial (NORDIET). J Intern Med. 2011 Feb;269(2):150-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02290.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22. PMID: 20964740.
  4. Adamsson V, Reumark A, Fredriksson IB, Hammarström E, Vessby B, Johansson G, Risérus U. Effects of a healthy Nordic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolaemic subjects: a randomized controlled trial (NORDIET). J Intern Med. 2011 Feb;269(2):150-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02290.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22. PMID: 20964740.
  5. Uusitupa M, Hermansen K, Savolainen MJ, Schwab U, Kolehmainen M, Brader L, Mortensen LS, Cloetens L, Johansson-Persson A, Onning G, Landin-Olsson M, Herzig KH, Hukkanen J, Rosqvist F, Iggman D, Paananen J, Pulkki KJ, Siloaho M, Dragsted L, Barri T, Overvad K, Bach Knudsen KE, Hedemann MS, Arner P, Dahlman I, Borge GI, Baardseth P, Ulven SM, Gunnarsdottir I, Jónsdóttir S, Thorsdottir I, Orešič M, Poutanen KS, Risérus U, Akesson B. Effects of an isocaloric healthy Nordic diet on insulin sensitivity, lipid profile and inflammation markers in metabolic syndrome -- a randomized study (SYSDIET). J Intern Med. 2013 Jul;274(1):52-66. doi: 10.1111/joim.12044. Epub 2013 Mar 2. PMID: 23398528; PMCID: PMC3749468.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist