Fermentation & Health

food that is on the nordic diet list

Find Out What’s on the Nordic Diet Food List

There’s a new contender battling its way to the top of the US News Top Ten Diet List. And while some aspects of this Viking-inspired diet are familiar, others require a more adventuresome palette. The new kid on the block is the Nordic Diet, a plant-based, low-cal diet similar to the Mediterranean Diet. Both encourage the consumption of lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats. However, if you look a little closer, the Nordic Diet food list features some intriguing menu options native to the Nordic Region, including a host of digestion-boosting fermented veggies, fish, and dairy. Interested in learning more about what constitutes healthy eating in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland? Or just craving a much-needed change-of-pace? If yes, scan the Nordic Diet food list below for several novel and nutritious food suggestions you and your taste buds might enjoy.    

Origin and Benefits of the Nordic Diet

The Nordic Diet is more than just a collection of regional dishes. It’s a coordinated effort on the part of scientific and culinary community leaders to promote public health by shining a spotlight on food choices, as well as on mealtime habits. Whole foods and mindful eating are at the heart of the Nordic Diet, with the goal being a diet that’s as easy on the environment as it is healthy for the people who follow it. The end result is a fine-tuned balance of lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and dense nutrients, which when eaten regularly, may help control weight, lower inflammation, and reduce many of the risks associated with diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Seasonal, organic, and locally sourced foods are all Nordic Diet “musts,” as are sustainably grown and wild foods. Each food category has a purpose. Veggies, fruits, and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carbs, and fiber to ward off disease, boost energy and help maintain digestive health. Plant-based and animal proteins are cellular building blocks essential for tissue growth and maintenance. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular function, while the lower saturated fat levels in wild game translate to lower cholesterol levels and less chance of developing heart disease. And finally, the prebiotics and probiotics in fermented foods pave the way for gut health, which is where many of our immune responses begin. The list goes on and on, reminding us that we are, quite literally, a reflection of what we eat. 

But the Nordic Diet is not just about “what you eat.” It’s also about “how you eat.” Practitioners of the Nordic Diet are encouraged to sit down to homecooked meals with family and friends, drink plenty of water, and eat only until satiated as opposed to “full.” Our brethren in the far Northern reaches of the world have a reputation for living well, and moderation in everything – work, exercise, relaxation, and diet – is a central tenet of their lifestyle choice. 

wildbrine products are on the nordic diet list

What’s on the Nordic Diet Food List

The Nordic Diet is not meant to be representative of all the foods the region is known for. You won’t find melt-in-your mouth butter cookies, flaky pastries, fatty sausages, or rich, aged cheeses here. Rather, the Nordic Diet food list is a sampling of the region’s healthiest fare. But if delicious and nutritious are what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Cruciferous veggies (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)
  • Fermented krauts and veggie mixes
  • Root veggies (beets, rutabaga, radishes, turnips, onions, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, carrots)
  • Mushrooms
  • Legumes (peas, lentils, brown beans)
  • Apples, pears, plums, but especially berries (cloudberries, strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries, elderberries, red and black currants)
  • Nuts (primarily almonds) and seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Whole grains (rye, barley, oats) 
  • Dark, dense whole grain breads (rye, Pumpernickel, sourdough, crispbreads)
  • Fresh, canned, and fermented or pickled fish (salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, mackerel) 
  • Game meat (elk, venison, rabbit)
  • Canola (rapeseed) oil
  • Fermented dairy (Skyr, a high protein, low-sugar yogurt and Kefir, a low-lactose milk)
  • Herbs and sauces (parsley, dill, fennel, mustard, horseradish, vinaigrettes)

What’s Not on the Nordic Diet Food List

Generally speaking, saturated fats, added sugars, salt and other additives, along with starchy carbs are all “verboten.” That means no or very little processed foods, red meat, alcohol, or sweetened beverages. Lean meats, such as skinless poultry, and eggs are acceptable in moderation, although most Nordic Diet proteins are derived from fish and plant alternatives, such as legumes, nuts, and seeds. Don’t let these restrictions worry you though. There are so many fresh, wholesome items on the Nordic Diet food list to choose from, you won’t think twice about what you might be missing. 

How to Turn the Nordic Diet Food List into Fam-Favorite Meals

Craving a slow-cooked vegetable stew, crusty pan-fried salmon, or a stack of whole-wheat pancakes slathered in a berry compote? An appetite and a five-minute Google search are all it takes to unearth a seemingly endless parade of mouth-watering recipes specifically written with the Nordic Diet food list in mind. And if some ingredients prove hard-to-find and prepare or seem a tad bit pricey, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of readily available substitutes out there, for instance, ground turkey instead of elk, canned sardines instead of surströmming (fermented herring), or Greek yogurt instead of Skyr (Icelandic yogurt). For anyone who has a difficult time digesting dairy, deliciously creamy plant-based spreads, dips, and cheeses are a great alternative. And keeping several pre-made jars of tangy fermented krauts, kimchi, slaws, and sauces tucked away in the pantry or fridge is another fool-proof way to make meal preparation quick and easy.

When planning meals, however, be sure to stick to the Nordic Diet’s recommended 2:1 carb to protein ratio. And no cheating. By carbs, we mean complex carbs – veggies, fruits, and whole grains, not white bread. And by protein, we mean lean or plant-based proteins – a skinless chicken breast or a bean salad, not a T-Bone steak. Think you’re ready to give the Nordic Diet a go? Then, don’t wait another minute. Get started today. If you’re serious about improving your eating habits, the Nordic Diet is the perfect place to begin.


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Pickled Vegetables