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New Nordic Diet

Project manager: Pernille Baardseth,

What do we know about Nordic food’s nutritional qualities? How can the Nordic cuisine’s health promoting aspects improve the general state of health? These are some of the questions New Nordic Diet seeks to answer through research collaboration between chefs, food industry, academia and health authorities.

Detailed documentation needed
More detailed documentation is required before Nordic food can be branded as a healthier nutrition choice. New Nordic Diet’s purpose is to create an overview over the studies already conducted and promote research in areas where knowledge about Nordic food’s nutritional value is somehow limited.

Defining New Nordic Diet
Lund University was the host of a Nordic workshop under the headline ‘What is New Nordic Diet?’ in January 2012. Invitees included chefs and nutrition specialists, technology developers, product designers and representatives from the food industry and the public sector. Data comparing food consumption in the Mediterranean countries and the Nordics between 1964 and 2007 was presented, showing that the development in the Nordic countries is aligned with nutritional recommendations from WHO/FAO.
“We agreed to initiate a Nordic health research project looking into how food guidelines and the Nordic nutrition recommendations can be translated into tasty, attractive meals in institutions and homes. The first step of the project is to invite to an anthology workshop to collect data about the positive aspects of Nordic food”, says project manager Pernille Baardseth.

Project partners include the Nordic Council of Ministers and New Nordic Food II, NoCe, OPUS, Nordic Nutrition Recommendation, Norwegian Directorate of Health, Swedish National Food Agency, National Finnish Nutrition Council and FAO.

Presentations at major Nordic food conferences
Results from the workshop were presented at the 10th Nordic Nutrition Conference in Reykjavik in June 2012 and at the New Nordic Food II conference in Oslo in November. The two events provided an opportunity to present the ideas to a large number of leading food experts in the Nordic region. New Nordic Diet drew their attention to the fact that nutritional quality of Nordic food is not sufficiently documented and presented ways to close this knowledge gap. “We need research projects that analyses Nordic ingredients’ nutrient composition and how the food’s health qualities are affected as it moves along the food value chain – from raw ingredients and products to processing and preparation”, Baardseth explains.
“Also, we need to look at what happens after the food has been consumed; which nutrients does the body absorb from Nordic foods and how do they affect mental and physical health?”

ARTICLE (13.3.3013): New study on a healthy Nordic Diet

POSTER (14-15.3.2013):  Characterization of the Nordic Food – a competitive advantage for the Nordic countries by P. Baardseth, S. Grimmer and G. I. Borge, Nofima

The published SYSDIET (one of Nordic center of excellence) study suggests that it is possible to establish a healthy Nordic diet based on the Nordic dietary recommendations and using Nordic food, but the Nordic raw materials, ingredients and products must be documented and characterized. The Mediterranean diet is the best known dietary pattern, but the definitions of the Mediterranean diet are unclear, therefore it has not obtained a health claim (EFSA Journal 2011, 9(6), 19 pp) on cardiac function. A competitive advantage for the Nordic countries will be to identify the content and quality of nutrients and compounds with physiological activity in Nordic food from raw materials to effect on health, i.e. follow the content and quality along the value chain.

The challenges are information about food composition from food composition tables (FCT) which is incomplete. A poster at the final symposium for Nordic Center of Excellence – Food, Nutrition and Health on March 14 to 15 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark we tried to illustrate the challenges exemplifies by water soluble vitamins and phytochemicals in plant food.

We concluded that the vitamin C content in fruit and vegetables can vary according to varieties and growing condition. It is very sensitive to degradation during processing. The vitamin C content recorded in Food Composition Tables can therefore be very misleading. Other phytochemicals are not recorded in these FCT neither in raw materials nor in processed products. Fresh plant foods must be characterized, and there is a need of documentation on the effects of food processing, in vitro and in vivo bioactivity and health effects. More documentation is needed on health-related quality through the value-chain.

BLOG (19.10.2013): Can the Nordic Dietary policies be a role model?

Bild: Pernille Baardseth/NNM II