What Is the Nordic Diet (and Should I Try It)?

avocado toast on a plate with vegetables and eggs

First came hygge, then came lagom. Scandinavian wellness concepts are all the rage these days, and that influence has extended into the realm of diet trends. Namely, the Nordic Diet. We did some research to find out if it’s doable, healthy and effective. Here’s the deal.

What is the Nordic diet? This diet consists of foods traditionally sourced in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, it includes lots of fruits and vegetables, and an emphasis on whole grains and seafood (including fatty fish like salmon) over meat. But unlike the Mediterranean diet, canola oil is used in the place of olive oil (it's more popular than olive in Scandinavian countries). Seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced foods are also encouraged.

OK, but what’s off limits? Adherents to the Nordic diet typically limit sugar and processed foods. Plus, since it’s a plant-based diet, excessive meat consumption is also frowned upon.

So what do the pros think? Again, like with the Mediterranean diet, they’re pretty onboard. We checked in with Katharine Kissane, MS, RD, CSSD, who told us, “The Nordic diet has some research regarding health benefits including lowering inflammation and risk for heart disease. It emphasizes the intake of fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids), whole-grain cereals, fruits (especially berries) and vegetables.” She added, “This diet also emphasizes local, seasonal foods that can be obtained from Nordic regions.” Finding local Nordic foods in the middle of America may not be entirely doable, but the main point is to eat more local foods. The bottom line? Any diet that emphasizes real foods consumed in moderation is OK in our book—and the books of health experts, too.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...