Eat Like a Viking for Health Benefits

For years, you've heard about the Mediterranean diet's heart-healthy benefits. Could a northern version of this popular plan also help combat heart disease and other obesity-related conditions?

In a word: possibly. While more research is needed, a growing body of evidence suggests a Nordic diet may offer similar health benefits to its warm-weather cousin.


Built around food eaten in Sweden and neighboring countries, the Nordic diet consists of:

  • Whole-grain products, including oats, barley, and rye
  • Vegetables (especially root vegetables)
  • Legumes
  • Pears, apples, and berries
  • Limited low-fat dairy
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel

The Mediterranean plan differs slightly, as it includes wheat pasta and emphasizes olive oil, which is replaced by canola oil in the Nordic plan.


Some researchers have found that a healthy Nordic diet can help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure in people with high cholesterol. This diet has been shown to help people with wide waist circumferences lose weight.

At least one study has also noted that the Nordic diet lowers inflammation markers in abdominal fat. Inflammation has been linked to heart disease and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

While the diet has not been proven to prevent chronic disease, it follows many hear-healthy eating principles long embraced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association.

Sign up for our e-newsletter!

Get tips to help you manage your family's health, options to boost your fitness and advice to live your best life.