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Thread: Nordic Diet as Healthy as Mediterranean

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    Nordic Diet as Healthy as Mediterranean

    Olive oil, vegetables, citrus fruit and unrefined cereals from the Mediterranean may be replaced in slimmers' shopping baskets by Scandinavian rapeseed oil, elk and berries such as cowberries and cloudberries. The Mediterranean diet – one of the leading eating plans for the past 20 years – is facing competition from the "Nordic diet", which, scientists are finding, could be significantly healthier.

    The findings have generated excitement among many nutrition experts in the United Kingdom as the British climate is more suited to producing the kinds of foods found in Scandinavia than it is to growing the sun-ripened foods of the Mediterranean. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark, have set up a EURO 13.3 million (£12.2 million) project aimed at identifying and testing more products from the region that can fit into the "New Nordic Diet". They also plan to carry out trials with schoolchildren to see how the diet can help improve their health.

    Professor Arne Astrup, president of the International Association for the Study of Obesity and head of the department of human nutrition at Copenhagen University, is leading the project. He said: "The plan is to develop a counterpart to the Mediterranean diet that is superior in terms of health effects and palatability."

    In Finland, around 23 per cent of people are obese; in Sweden, the figure is as low as 10 per cent; but in the UK, the number is around 25 per cent. The popularity of the Mediterranean diet stems from data showing that people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean have lower levels of cardiovascular disease, obesity and certain types of cancer.

    Regional eating habits include consuming large amounts of vegetables, nuts, bread and fish, which make the Mediterranean diet very low in saturated fats, which typically come from meat. Nutritionists in the UK have, consequently, pushed the vegetable and olive oil-rich diet as a way of combating Britain's appalling public health record, and in Scotland the Government funded intensive research into the effectiveness of the diet.

    But the latest findings from scientists working in northern Europe suggest that foods from Scandinavian countries can provide a more convenient alternative. Research by Elling Bere from the University of Agder, Norway, has shown that native berries from northern Europe such as blueberries, cowberries and cloudberries contain as much unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids as fish per unit of energy.

    He also found that they were rich in antioxidants, which are known to reduce the levels of harmful molecules in cells that can build up over time and cause damage, leading to diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. Rapeseed oil has been found to be a good alternative to olive oil, containing more omega-3 fatty acids and being a good source of vitamin E.

    Cabbage and other brassica species such a kale and Brussels sprouts, which tend to thrive in cold-weather conditions, have been found by scientists at the University of Oslo to contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable and are a good source of vitamin K, which plays a role in blood coagulation. Traditional Nordic diets have also been high in fish, as in the Mediterranean, with particular preference for salmon, trout, cod and herring.

    Prof Astrup also believes that game meat from animals such as elk and reindeer, and birds such as grouse, should also form a greater part of people's diets as these meats tends to be leaner than farm-reared livestock. Dr Joan Ransley, a lecturer in nutritional Epidemiology at Leeds University, said: "In northern climates it is difficult to adopt Mediterranean diet simply because the ingredients like peppers and tomatoes don't grow in colder climates and the growing season is so much shorter.

    "If they can represent these traditional foods in an attractive way it could be great." Trina Hahnemann, a Danish chef who recently published The Scandinavian Cookbook, added that in many parts of Scandinavia and Britain, traditional diets had been abandoned in favour of foods from Italy and Spain. She said: "I think that people have lost their food culture and forgotten about how foods suited to northern climates can be healthy. "In Britain you have a lot of kale, but almost no one realises that you can eat it raw like lettuce and it is very nutritious."

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    In short, eat the food of your people. Makes sense in a way... if you eat the foods your ancestors have always been eating, and they were a healthy bunch, then you should thrive. Still Italian food is on the top tier.

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    Well it is all part of the social conditioning that everything that is non-Northern European, is better.

    Although I am not sure whether many people would agree that med. diet's popularity is an effect of the Frankfurt School!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irby View Post
    Well it is all part of the social conditioning that everything that is non-Northern European, is better.

    Although I am not sure whether many people would agree that med. diet's popularity is an effect of the Frankfurt School!!!!
    Not really. Fact is, the basic fat rich Northern diet is unhealthier in comparison, thats a fact, especially under modern living conditions.

    Of course, if you were more time in the cold, had an extremely high consumption of energy and fat, you would have a smaller disadvantage and the energy you get might have been even necessary for survival in those times.

    But if you have a "modern way of life", living most of the time, especially in winter, in a warm house, dont moving and working as much physically, you obviously have an even greater problem with the Northern diet.

    Additionally, most people of the North had no such fat rich diet in the past neither, but had to live with a food which tastes much worse and give you less energy, because they were poor and couldnt afford meat regularly.

    If you think of food tasting good from Central to Northern Europe, its most of the time packed with more calories and unhealthy fats, rather something the people of the past had on festive days, if at all.

    The good thing about the Mediterranean diet is it tastes good and is healthy in our modern times - something which is less common elsewhere in Europe I'd say.

    Its not necessary to come up with a conspiracy theory all the time...
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    Senior Member Irby's Avatar
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    It is not a conspiracy just an observation that everything 'Northern European' surprise surprise is bad.

    Second point, it is not just fat that makes you fat, what about sugars/carbs. I don't know about other places, but it is not fat that makes people in Britain fat, it is sugar. We in Britain are eating less fat/protein that a couple of generations ago. Why do the French eat the most fat in Europe, but have some of the lowest levels of obesity

    Third point, Mediterranean’s are Healthy, maybe, but from what I saw of most Italians was that they are very small and weedy, I could have picked most them up with one arm. Is that the kind of health you are talking about, small and weak?

    Do they live longer in the Med? If they do, it most only be a couple of years, and I would rather die younger than live looking like that.

    But I guess I am just a conspiracy theories, I better get some real information from the TV or those really unbiased seats of learning, the universities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irby View Post
    It is not a conspiracy just an observation that everything 'Northern European' surprise surprise is bad.

    Second point, it is not just fat that makes you fat, what about sugars/carbs. I don't know about other places, but it is not fat that makes people in Britain fat, it is sugar. We in Britain are eating less fat/protein that a couple of generations ago. Why do the French eat the most fat in Europe, but have some of the lowest levels of obesity

    Third point, Mediterranean’s are Healthy, maybe, but from what I saw of most Italians was that they are very small and weedy, I could have picked most them up with one arm. Is that the kind of health you are talking about, small and weak?

    Do they live longer in the Med? If they do, it most only be a couple of years, and I would rather die younger than live looking like that.

    But I guess I am just a conspiracy theories, I better get some real information from the TV or those really unbiased seats of learning, the universities.
    You are right about sugar, sugar is in fact almost like a drug and foreign to every traditional European diet in a way, yet so is the potato, which is so common in Northern Europe for obvious reasons, climate etc.

    Carbohydrates aren't coming from sugar alone...

    The people in the Mediterranean area have less problems with cardiovascular diseases, yet you are right and wrong the same time talking about the Mediterranean people.

    Because taller and heavier people in general might have more cardiovascular problems, than shorter and lean ones. Since we know that genetics work for that in Northern Europe relative to Southern Europe, even with a similar or the same diet, we have to consider that too. Because a heavy built Cromagnoid doesnt become a small-lean Mediterranid, not even lean Nordid, just because eating the Mediterranean diet.

    They are rather not that short because of the diet primarily, because there are enough tall ones among them.

    And talking about health and nutrition, its not just about the time you die, but also the way you live. If you look at children which are fat before they are 10, and heavily obese with 20, you get a clue.

    However, talking about England, this obesity doesnt come from the Nordic or another traditional diet, but rather the inability to cook for the children properly of most working parents - or asocial ones who dont care - and the junk food industry, of which fast food is not always the worst thing, if looking at the frozen food from the supermarkets...
    Magna Europa est patria nostra
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    Senior Member Irby's Avatar
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    In essence one could say that the Med and the Nordic diet are the same, if you look beyond the different types of fish, fruit and veg, nuts, etc that are found here or around the Med.

    I think most Meds eat more local food and it is not processed as much, and they certainly know how to cook!

    In Britain/Ireland, like other place in Northern Europe, my Grandparents were all quite thin and health, and they eat local fruit and veg (maybe a lot of potatoes, but it was Ireland!) and pork. Also fish was very important as we used to have so much. But now most people don’t eat anything local, and it a lot is processed. I do think however that Northern peoples need to eat more protein, lots of fish rather than red meat. I do, especially with type O blood.

    Basically just eat local foods, that are unprocessed and I don't think you can go far wrong.

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    There are some examples:

    Fish vs. Pork

    Usually fish is better, at least if being not too polluted, hormons & antibiotica can be present in pork as well.

    Olive Oil vs. Animal Fats

    Vegetables vs. Potatoes and Meat

    So whats most important might be Olive Oil, though one could question whether its, especially in the usual quality, really that much better, the rest is mostly about what you take out of the potential diet of your region.

    Fact is that meat production being easier, more effective and traditional to Northern-Central Europe & related than to the Mediterranean island regions - obviously.

    In the past pigs were outside, weren't feed that much but ate what they got from the forest. The meat was better and nothing was wasted, because they ate from the forest and rests.

    Now they often get food which has to be produced in an expensive way, they are themselves totally unhealthy (they die if they hear a shot quite often from an heart attack and the like), one sided breed, often full of hormons and antibiotica and just produce cheap food fast.

    So in that simple example for pork, you might see that in the past, when the people had a different lifestyle and there were different breeding conditions, pork was very useful for Northern-Central Europe and related areas, but that situation isnt necessarily met these days to the same degree.

    I myself eat my Schnitzel myself and dont live too healthy, for what it might be good or bad for, but there are obvious facts one can hardly negate...
    Magna Europa est patria nostra
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    I'll be honest. I've tried the Mediterranean diet for such a long time since I moved Spain for job issues. Everything I got ..were extra kilos. Tortilla, paella, fish, too much oil, too much frying, fat meat, bull meat (disgusting) and as I've seen they eat everything from a chicken (cmon..)...maybe its about how you mix ingredients and food, yes, I'm sure. But still, I wouldnt consider it as the healthiest.

    I love doing my own salads, fruit salads with red fruits (which you even find in mediterranean area, not even in shops), fresh fish, salmon, grain bread, milk, own recipes of sweets made at home, ...

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    Medditeranean diet? There is more than one. In fact, one of them is not good for you. That being the Italian one. Grain is one of the worst basis for a good diet. Humans weren't even designed to eat grain in vast quantities, something common in Italian cuisine.

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