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Follow-up study confirms Nordic diets' health benefits

Plenty of berries, fruits and veg, as well as fish three times a week can help prevent common ailments like diabetes and heart disease as people get older, according to the findings.

Whole grains are also preferred, along with servings of varying types of fish two to three times a week. Nordic nutritionists also recommend limited consumption of sugary drinks and red meat. Image: /All Over Press

A recent follow-up study has confirmed that regularly eating a Nordic diet reduces health risks, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to researcher Hanna-Mari Tertsunen, from the University of Eastern Finland. A separate, previous study highlighted the Nordic diet's effectiveness in preventing strokes.

The study probed the links between good health and dietary recommendations issued in Finland and other Nordic countries, examining the condition and diet of middle-aged and elderly men from eastern Finland over a period of around 20 years.

"It was found that those who followed a healthy Nordic diet were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who did not follow it as strictly," Tertsunen explained.

Nutrition recommendations in Finland and other Nordic countries suggest diets rich in berries, fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains are also preferred, and servings of varying types of fish two to three times a week. Nordic nutritionists also recommend limited consumption of sugary drinks and red meat.

The Finnish Food Authority has issued detailed dietary guidelines (siirryt toiseen palveluun) for people of all ages.

Even partially following a Nordic diet can have beneficial effects. Image: Yle/Raili Löyttyniemi

Tertsunen noted that a Mediterranean diet has long been considered to be healthy, but wanted to examine dietary habits that are more relevant to Finland, as little research has been carried out on the topic.

Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are very common ailments around the world, with coronary heart disease being one of the most common causes of death in the world.

Tertsunen said combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, a Nordic diet can reduce the risk of disease and offer a better quality of life for people as they age.

"Based on the results of the research, it seems that a Nordic diet is worth recommending to middle-aged men. It can reduce the various risks of illness and mortality," she said.

Tertunen noted that even if the diet isn't followed flawlessly, there are still health benefits to even partially following the guidelines.

A report on the research, Adherence to a healthy Nordic diet and risk of type 2 diabetes among men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition.