The Nordic Diet vs. The Mediterranean Diet: Two Peas in a Pod

I am a huge proponent of both the Mediterranean Diet and the Nordic Diet, which have slight differences although they have many more similarities.

Both plans emphasize a plant-based diet (high in fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes) and include moderate amounts of fish (two to three servings a week), and eggs, as well as a small amount of dairy foods. Both plans also limit processed foods, sweets, and red meat. One of the significant differences between the two is the type of oil that is encouraged; the Mediterranean diet recommends olive oil, while the Nordic diet suggests canola oil. Some wise individuals have recommended following the Nordic diet in the winter and the Mediterranean diet in the summer if you would like to buy more locally-produced foods and want to have more control over food costs. Both plans steer followers towards social dining – encouraging people to enjoy leisurely meals with family and friends at home.

The staples of the Nordic diet include rye, barley, or oat cereals, crackers, and breads (higher in soluble fiber); berries (a traditional Nordic diet emphasizes lingonberries and bilberries) and other fruit (apples, plums, and pears especially); vegetables (especially cabbage, kale, potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots); fatty fish; and legumes. According to many, the Nordic diet explicitly emphasizes choosing organic produce, eating more wild foods, promoting animal well-being, and generating less waste more than the Mediterranean diet does, although some people have stated that the Mediterranean diet also implicitly makes these recommendations. “New Nordic”  cuisine defined by Claus Meyer, owner of the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen aims to embolden other to use foods native to the Nordic region including fungi, beech leaves, birch juice, reindeer, and chickweed.

The vegetables and fruit featured in the Mediterranean diet are salad greens, tomatoes, eggplants, pomegranates, figs, and dates. The grains recommended on the Mediterranean diet are farro and whole-wheat bread and pasta (higher in insoluble fiber). On the Mediterranean diet, you’ll probably eat low-fat Greek yogurt, as opposed to the low-fat skyr yogurt on the Nordic diet.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet are associated with lowered all-cause and cause-specific mortality, including deaths from cancer and heart disease, and both reduce the cases of diabetes and stroke. At the end of the day, we are just comparing two very well-balanced diets that emphasize whole foods and encourage people to eat the foods that grow in their geographic region.

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