A new study from the University of Copenhagen found that a Nordic diet has positive health benefits, regardless of whether you lose weight or not.
The study is published in the journal Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Lars Ove Dragsted et al.
Berries, veggies, fish, whole grains, and rapeseed oil are the main ingredients of the Nordic diet concept that, for the past decade, have been recognized as extremely healthy, tasty, and sustainable.
The diet can prevent obesity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Until now, Nordic diet research has primarily been linked to its positive health effect following weight loss.
In the study, the team examined blood and urine samples from 200 people over the age of 50, all with elevated BMI and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The participants were divided into two groups—one provided foods according to Nordic dietary recommendations and a control group on their habitual diet.
After six months of monitoring, the team found the group that had been on the Nordic diet for six months became much healthier, with lower cholesterol levels, lower overall levels of both saturated and unsaturated fat in the blood, and better regulation of glucose, compared to the control group.
The researchers kept the group on the Nordic diet weight stable, meaning that they asked the participants to eat more if they lost weight. Even without weight loss, the team could see an improvement in their health.
Instead of weight loss alone, the researchers point to the unique composition of fats in a Nordic diet as a possible explanation for the strong health benefits.
By analyzing the blood of participants, the team could see that those who benefited most from the dietary change had different fat-soluble substances than the control group.
These are substances that appear to be linked to unsaturated fatty acids from oils in the Nordic diet. This is a sign that Nordic dietary fats probably play the most significant role for health.
Fats in the Nordic diet come from fish, flaxseeds, sunflower, and rapeseed, among other things.
As a whole, they constitute a beneficial mix for the body, although the researchers have yet to accurately explain why these fats seem to lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The findings confirm that the absence of highly processed food and less saturated fats from animals have a very positive effect on health.
The team says the fat composition in the Nordic diet, which is higher in omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats, is probably a considerable part of the explanation for the health effects in the Nordic diet.
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