The Nordic Diet Vs. The Mediterranean Diet: Which One Is Better For You?

If you've recently discovered the Nordic diet and thought that it sounded a lot like the Mediterranean diet, you're not alone: Since the Nordic diet became popularized in the last two years, many devotees to the heart-healthy Mediterranean style of eating have switched over. But is one really healthier than the other?

The diets are more similar than they are different: Both focus on locally grown, seasonal produce with plenty of fats and clean sources of protein like seafood and nuts, along with whole grains. The diets are also similar in what they avoid: processed foods, simple sugars, and large quantities of red meat (via Harvard Health Publishing).

They differ in a few small ways: The Nordic diet prioritizes canola oil over olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet. The Nordic diet, based on the eating styles of the northern European Scandinavian countries, is focused on produce, grains and fish that are local to those regions. That means more root vegetables, cabbage, small berries, fatty cold-water fish, and grains like rye and barley, compared to the Mediterranean diet's warm-weather staples like salad greens, tomatoes, eggplants, pomegranates, figs, and dates (via

Harvard Health Publishing and Well+Good). But most notable is the Nordic diet's focus on eco-friendly, sustainable options for eating that are healthier for both the body and the planet.

Which diet should you pick?

Ultimately, these two diets are quite similar, and the best one for you is dependent on your personal preferences as well as where you live and what is locally available in terms of produce. Those in more northern climates will likely find that a Nordic diet is the more sustainable option, since it highlights root vegetables and fruits that do well in cooler temperatures, like berries. It can also be a matter of taste: some may find that a Mediterranean diet with its lighter, brighter vegetable choices feels more satisfying, or that the Nordic approach to adding pickled or fermented fish to meals for protein and healthy fats isn't appealing (via U.S. News). 

Rather than trying to pick a winner between two healthy, whole-food based diets, consider simply focusing on the guidelines that each one uses. Take the best advice from both and start eating more fruits and vegetables, emphasizing whole foods and skipping processed options. Use meat more sparingly and fill your plate with local produce before adding protein in the form of fish, dairy or lean meat. Finally, take time to enjoy every bite mindfully, as you sit down to home-cooked meals (via Health).