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The World's Healthiest Diets

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Week Three: The Nordic Region

People in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have long had one of the lowest obesity rates in Europe. Only 13.4 percent of the Danish population and 10 percent of Norwegians are obese, and Icelanders have a 50 percent lower death rate from heart disease and diabetes than North Americans, Dr. Miller says.

Slimming Secrets

Better your bread. In Scandinavia the most beloved loaf is rye. "There are two types of fiber: soluble, found in rye, and insoluble, found in wheat," explains Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple. "Both make you feel full, but the soluble kind also lowers cholesterol and glycemic response, causing less glucose in the bloodstream, which means fewer blood sugar spikes and cravings." When I ate my turkey sandwich on a single slice of rye (a typical Scandinavian sammie is open-faced), the bread was so substantial that I didn't miss the second slice.

Go fish. Danish people consume more than twice as much fish as Americans, says Arne Astrup, MD, PhD, the nutrition department head at the University of Copenhagen. "Seafood is lower in calories and fat than other protein sources," Scritchfield says. And much of the fat in the fish that's popular in Scandinavia -- herring, tuna, salmon, mackerel, and cod -- is heart-healthy omega-3s. In an eight-week study, researchers from the University of Iceland found that overweight people who ate three to five servings of cod a week lost more weight than those who scorned seafood. So I ate tuna salad (made with salsa instead of mayo) for lunch a couple of times a week, and I grilled salmon frequently.

Hit the farmers' market. But not just in the summer. The Nordic diet is full of cold-climate vegetables -- cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts -- and mushrooms, the kind of produce that is loaded with flavor and makes a lean meal feel heftier, Dr. Astrup says. I've typically drenched them in salt and creamy dressing, but I loved Scritchfield's suggestions: roasted beets with grapefruit and basil, and stir-fried brussels sprouts with low-sodium soy sauce and honey.

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lanapant wrote:

I really liked the article, in my opinion portion size matters. In Europe people dont eat enormous size servings

3/26/2014 12:14:20 PM Report Abuse
EthanChong wrote:

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10/5/2013 09:22:12 AM Report Abuse
fionajessegiffords wrote:

French Women always have a fabulous body, perfect shape. And the eating habits they have are now taken as for better diet plans. Many are following the eating habits.

2/11/2013 12:57:15 AM Report Abuse
lettereletterd wrote:

Whoa, the Japanese very definitely belong to the clean plate club--it is super rude to not finish everything on your plate. However, being moderate in what gets there in the first place is true.

1/15/2013 05:19:01 AM Report Abuse
moriahriffe wrote:

loved this entry! great information and learned some handy tips!

1/6/2013 09:35:44 PM Report Abuse

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