Spotlight on Nordic diet

From left to right: Project managers Matti Uusitupa (NCoE SYSDIET), Anne Tjønneland (NCoE HELGA) and Rolf Kristian Berge (NCoE Mitohealth)

Spotlight on Nordic diet

Nordic food has been attracting serious attention in recent years – thanks in large part to three Nordic Centres of Excellence under the NCoE Programme on Food, Nutrition and Health.

The centres’ activities were officially concluded 14–15 March at a symposium held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The main results of each centre were presented and participants discussed the road ahead.Conventional wisdom has long held that a traditional Nordic diet – with its fibre-rich nutrients from plants, fish and other seafood, nuts and berries – is a healthy one. But the scientific basis to make this claim has been lacking.

The main objective of the Food, Nutrition and Health programme has been to enhance scientific quality and strengthen the knowledge base for public dietary recommendations.

Now researchers believe they have sufficient evidence-based data to support the claim that a traditional Nordic diet is just as healthful as a Mediterranean diet. A great deal of new knowledge has emerged, and this is being incorporated into Nordic dietary recommendations.

Dynamic network

Interest in Nordic food has grown considerably in recent years, both in the Nordic countries and internationally. While this is not all the result of research and dissemination activities from the NCoE centres, they have certainly been a contributing factor, along with some enthusiastic chefs and cookbook authors.

Perhaps the most important factor has been that nutrition researchers in the Nordic countries have developed such a dynamic network amongst themselves in recent years. This has served to strengthen research beyond the national initiatives for nutrition research that are in place.

That was precisely NordForsk’s intent when it established the three diet-related Nordic Centres of Excellence in 2007. These, along with two centres focused on welfare research, made up the first Nordic Centres of Excellence that NordForsk launched after its establishment in 2005.

The Nordic Centres of Excellence scheme is co-financed by NordForsk and the national research councils of the Nordic countries.

To be evaluated

“The three centres are to be evaluated this year, but it is already clear that they have been a success with regard to cooperation. There has been close cooperation not only within each centre but also among the three centres,” says Harry Zilliacus, Senior Adviser at NordForsk.

Some of the results presented in Copenhagen will soon be featured on the NordForsk website.

Read more about the projects here:

NCoE HELGA: Nordic Health – Wholegrain Food

NCoE MitoHealth: Centre for Bioactive Food Components and Prevention of Lifestyle Diseases

NCoE SYSDIET: Systems biology in controlled dietary interventions and cohort studies

Text: Siw Ellen Jakobsen

Photo:Anne Riiser