The Mediterranean diet, one packed with plenty of olive oil and vegetables, has long been lauded as the key to key to avoid heart disease. But researchers now claim that eating a Scandinavian diet may prove even better.
According to the findings of a new study, eating a Scandinavian diet, also known as the Noma diet is rich in game, fresh berries and fish – foods that thrive in cold northern climates. Eating a sumptuous serving of such foods helps lower cholesterol levels, thus cutting the risk of heart disease, researchers highlighted.
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at 166 obese people from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. While some participants stuck to their regular eating patters, others shifted to the Noma diet. Both groups, however, consumed the same number of daily calories.
Blood tests to measure cholesterol levels were conducted both start and end of the study.
After a 24 week follow-up, people who continued eating their regular diet showed little difference in their levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol as compared to people on Noma diet who posted a 4 percent drop in levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol along with an increase in levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.
Moreover, unlike the Mediterranean diet, the Noma diet also helped reduce levels of chemicals that resulted in inflammation in the blood that are linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“From a public health point of view, these results are encouraging,” study’s lead researcher, Professor Matti Uusitupa, from the University of Eastern Finland, said.
“Even small reductions in non-HDL-C and LDL-C are considered to have major impact on CVD morbidity and mortality.
“We estimated that bad cholesterol and good cholesterol ratio improved to an extent that it may reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality some 10 to 15 per cent within five to ten years.”
“Furthermore, one of the inflammatory factor, IL-1 Ra, was lower during the Healthy Noma diet compared to control diet meaning that in long run it may result in some 20 to 40% reduction in the risk of type two diabetes.”
The losing trend of Mediterranean diet
Although the Mediterranean diet is known to boost health and longevity, it missed out greatly on being accepted worldwide.
“The Mediterranean diet, representing the diet traditionally eaten in southern Europe, has long been related to improved health and prevention of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type two diabetes,” Uusitupa said.
“Acceptance of the Mediterranean diet has not been easy in other parts of the western world, probably due to difficulties in changing dietary patterns, cultural differences in taste and limited accessibility to various foods.”
“A health-enhancing regional Noma diet has therefore been proposed as an alternative to the Mediterranean diet.”
The findings of the study are reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine.