Nordic diet is a healthful choice beyond weight loss, study finds

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A recent study conducted by the University of Copenhagen has shed light on the health benefits of the Nordic diet, irrespective of weight loss.

Published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, the study, led by Lars Ove Dragsted and his team, underscores the positive impact of this diet on overall well-being.

Key Components and Health Advantages

The Nordic diet emphasizes the consumption of berries, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and rapeseed oil. Recognized for its healthfulness, tastiness, and sustainability, this dietary approach offers a range of advantages.

It can prevent obesity and reduce the risk of various conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

While previous research primarily focused on the Nordic diet’s health effects in relation to weight loss, this study explored its impact independently of weight changes.

Findings and Potential Explanations

The research team examined blood and urine samples from 200 individuals aged 50 and above, all with elevated body mass index (BMI) and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Participants were divided into two groups—one adhered to the Nordic dietary recommendations while the control group continued their habitual diet.

After six months of observation, the researchers made noteworthy discoveries.

The group following the Nordic diet experienced significant health improvements, including lower cholesterol levels, reduced overall levels of saturated and unsaturated fats in the blood, and better glucose regulation compared to the control group.

Notably, the researchers maintained the weight stability of the Nordic diet group, encouraging participants to eat more if weight loss occurred. Thus, the positive health outcomes were not solely attributed to weight loss.

The researchers suggest that the unique composition of fats in the Nordic diet could account for its substantial health benefits.

Analysis of participants’ blood revealed that those who benefited the most from the dietary change displayed distinct fat-soluble substances compared to the control group.

These substances appeared to be associated with the unsaturated fatty acids found in the oils used in the Nordic diet, indicating the crucial role of these dietary fats in promoting health.

Fish, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and rapeseed oil contribute to the beneficial mix of fats in the Nordic diet.

While the exact mechanisms underlying their ability to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels remain to be fully understood, their presence in the diet has been shown to have a positive impact.

The study reinforces the notion that the absence of highly processed foods and a lower intake of saturated fats from animal sources significantly contribute to improved health outcomes.

The team suggests that the fat composition of the Nordic diet, characterized by higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats, likely plays a pivotal role in the observed health effects.

Overall, the findings highlight the manifold advantages of adopting a Nordic diet and emphasize the importance of its unique fat composition in supporting health and well-being.

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