The Nordic Diet: Should you eat like a Viking?

Thursday, June 30, 2016. Author Geraldine Campbell

The Nordic Diet, also referred to as ‘The Viking Diet’, has been tipped as the new Mediterranean. The Nordic Diet is based upon traditional diets eaten by those living in countries like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. It focuses on locally grown and sustainable produce. This diet includes fatty fish (herring/mackerel/salmon/white fish), low-fat dairy products (yoghurts/cheese), whole grain cereals (rye/barley/oats), berries, root/cruciferous vegetables (cabbage/cauliflower/spinach/seaweed), canola oil, nuts and legumes. Research has found that the Nordic Diet carries many health benefits, including weight loss, reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol/triglycerides, improved blood sugar control and lowered inflammation. Boiling and grilling are the more commonly used ways of preparing food which may also aid the health benefits seen.

The Nordic Diet and weight loss

Frequently observed in studies are the weight loss benefits of following a Nordic Diet, and with obesity rates significantly lower in these Nordic countries compared to the US and UK; it appears that this diet leads to better weight management. This is also supported by the World Obesity Federation, as they reported the following findings on population obesity percentages:

One suggested explanation is the high levels of fibre and protein found within the components of this diet. These macronutrients allow you to feel fuller for longer which could be of great advantage to those who struggle with overeating behaviours such as those carriers of the risk allele (A) of the FTO gene.

The Nordic Diet and metabolic syndrome

The lowering of inflammation within individuals is the most significant impact of consuming a high fibre and protein diet, with this impact observed within those with symptoms of metabolic syndrome (have higher levels of inflammation than healthy individuals). Alterations in the expression of genes linked to inflammation is a possible reason for the beneficial impact on metabolic health. Two genes in which a reduction in their expression have been found within studies on those suffering from elevated inflammation are IL-1Ra and IL6R.

Is this the right diet for you?

At FitnessGenes we test for a version of the IL6R gene which regulates the expression of IL6 and impacts upon an individual's’ risk of developing features of metabolic syndrome. Those who carry the risk variant may benefit most from adopting the Nordic Diet to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome development through lowered inflammation.

Discover your individual FTO and IL6R variations today by selecting a Genetic Workout System from our online shop. Already been tested? Check your results to see if you could be suited to giving the Viking Diet a go!


Sassi, F., Organisation européenne de coopération économique, Devaux, M. and Fisher, H., 2012. OECD obesity update 2012. OECD.

Adamsson, V., Reumark, A., Fredriksson, I.B., Hammarström, E., Vessby, B., Johansson, G. and Risérus, U., 2011. Effects of a healthy Nordic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolaemic subjects: a randomized controlled trial (NORDIET). Journal of internal medicine, 269(2), pp.150-159.

Hu, F.B. and Willett, W.C., 2002. Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease. Jama, 288(20), pp.2569-2578.

Poulsen, S.K., Due, A., Jordy, A.B., Kiens, B., Stark, K.D., Stender, S., Holst, C., Astrup, A. and Larsen, T.M., 2014. Health effect of the New Nordic Diet in adults with increased waist circumference: a 6-mo randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 99(1), pp.35-45.

Adamsson, V., Reumark, A., Cederholm, T., Vessby, B., Risérus, U. and Johansson, G., 2012. What is a healthy Nordic diet? Foods and nutrients in the NORDIET study. Food & nutrition research, 56.

Uusitupa, M., Hermansen, K., Savolainen, M.J., Schwab, U., Kolehmainen, M., Brader, L., Mortensen, L.S., Cloetens, L., JohanssonPersson, A., Önning, G. and LandinOlsson, M., 2013. Effects of an isocaloric healthy Nordic diet on insulin sensitivity, lipid profile and inflammation markers in metabolic syndrome–a randomized study (SYSDIET). Journal of internal medicine, 274(1), pp.52-66.

Kolehmainen, M., Ulven, S.M., Paananen, J., de Mello, V., Schwab, U., Carlberg, C., Myhrstad, M., Pihlajamäki, J., Dungner, E., Sjölin, E. and Gunnarsdottir, I., 2015. Healthy Nordic diet downregulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue in individuals with features of the metabolic syndrome. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 101(1), pp.228-239

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