When you think of a country known for the longevity of its residents, which one comes to mind? Is it Japan, with its famously healthy and independent elderly Okinawans? How about Italy, with its traditional, heart-healthy Mediterranian diet?
I’d bet that Scandinavian nations didn’t necessarily occur to you, but they’re up near the top of the list as well, with Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland all reporting a life expectancy of around 80 years.
The book The Nordic Diet focuses on the health benefits of the countries in the Northern hemisphere — the focus in these countries on whole grains, in-season fruits and vegetables, home cooking and eating regular fish-based and vegetarian meals pays health dividends, writes author Trina Hahnemann.
Luckily for Canadians, many of the key ingredients in featured in The Nordic Diet are easily available here, even in the colder months. Whole grains like rye, oats and barley appear often, as do vegetables like cabbage, greens and root veggies. Fish and seafood from northern waters are high in protein and good sources of healthy fats, and wild game is already a part of the diets of many in Canada. Berries, including blueberries and raspberries, will soon be in season all over the country. And it’s easy to grow your own herbs in your home in order to enjoy them fresh year-round.
The book’s full of beautiful photographs of simple, hearty food that’s also great for you. The recipes cover a lot of ground, including desserts, vegetarian options and homemade breads. It may seem unlikely, but this book is a great resource for enjoying some of the best foods native to Canada.
Here are eight simple guidelines to a healthier lifestyle, according to Hahnemann:
1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
2. Avoid junk food and ready-made meals.
3. Eat at least six servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
4. Enjoy whole grains in your bread, pasta, cereals and salads every day.
5. Reduce the fat in your foods, particularly in meat and dairy.
6. Eat fish two or three times each week.
7. Drink lots of water.
8. Avoid sugar, especially in soda, candy, cookies and cake.
Check out a recipe for beet burgers from The Nordic Diet.