The Nordic diet: health benefits beyond weight loss

Credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade/Unsplash.

The Nordic diet, rich in whole grains, fish, berries, and vegetables, has gained recognition over the last decade for its health benefits, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

A new study now suggests these benefits may extend beyond weight loss.

Study Overview: Beyond Weight Management

Led by Lars Ove Dragsted at the University of Copenhagen, the study focused on 200 individuals over 50 years of age who had an elevated BMI and a heightened risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Divided into two groups, one followed the Nordic diet, while the control group continued with their usual diets.

After six months, the Nordic diet group displayed significant improvements in cholesterol levels, overall blood fat levels, and glucose regulation—all without any weight loss.

These results challenge the conventional wisdom that improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar are solely a by-product of weight loss.

The findings suggest that the Nordic diet itself has intrinsic health benefits irrespective of weight changes.

The Role of Fats: A Closer Look

What sets the Nordic diet apart may be its unique composition of fats.

The participants who reaped the most benefits from this dietary change showed a different profile of fat-soluble substances in their blood compared to the control group.

Researchers hypothesize that unsaturated fatty acids in the Nordic diet, derived mainly from fish, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and rapeseed oil, could be playing a significant role in its health benefits.

Why It Works: The Potential Underlying Mechanisms

Although the precise mechanisms are not yet clear, several factors likely contribute to these benefits:

Absence of Highly Processed Food: The Nordic diet is low in processed foods, which often contain harmful trans fats and high levels of salt and sugar.

Less Saturated Fats: The diet includes less saturated fat from animal sources, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels.

Omega Fats: The higher content of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats could also be beneficial for metabolic health.

For Those Interested in Weight Loss

Although the focus of this study was not weight loss, those interested in weight management might want to check out other recent studies linking popular weight loss diets to heart disease and cancer, and research showing unique benefits of certain exercises for weight loss.

Conclusion: A Holistic Approach to Health

This groundbreaking study published in Clinical Nutrition brings new insights into the health advantages of the Nordic diet.

Not only does it offer a viable option for weight loss, but it also appears to provide intrinsic health benefits for cholesterol and blood sugar regulation.

Those interested in a diet that is not just sustainable but also rich in flavor and health benefits may want to give the Nordic diet a closer look.

For more information on weight loss and dietary choices, you might want to explore recent research on green diets, and how the keto diet may help control body weight and blood sugar in diabetes.

Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.