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Objective: To describe the dietary composition of the New Nordic Diet (NND) and to compare it with the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR)/Danish Food-based Dietary Guidelines (DFDG) and with the average Danish diet. Design: Dietary components with clear health-promoting properties included in the DFDG were included in the NND in amounts at least equivalent to those prescribed by the DFDG. The quantities of the other dietary components in the NND were based on scientific arguments for their potential health-promoting properties together with considerations of acceptability, toxicological concerns, availability and the environment. Calculations were conducted for quantifying the dietary and nutrient composition of the NND. Setting: Denmark. Subjects: None. Results: The NND is characterized by a high content of fruits and vegetables (especially berries, cabbages, root vegetables and legumes), fresh herbs, potatoes, plants and mushrooms from the wild countryside, whole grains, nuts, fish and shellfish, seaweed, free-range livestock (including pigs and poultry) and game. Overall, the average daily intakes of macro- and micronutrients in the NND meet the NNR with small adjustments based on evidence of their health-promoting properties. Conclusions: The NND is a prototype regional diet that takes palatability, health, food culture and the environment into consideration. Regionally appropriate healthy diets could be created on similar principles anywhere in the world.
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DietarycompositionandnutrientcontentoftheNewNordicDiet
CharlotteMithril,LarsOveDragsted,ClausMeyer,IngeTetens,AnjaBiltoftJensenandArneAstrup
PublicHealthNutrition/FirstViewArticle/January2006,pp19
DOI:10.1017/S1368980012004521,Publishedonline:
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Public Health Nutrition: page 1 of 9 doi:10.1017/S1368980012004521
Dietary composition and nutrient content of the
New Nordic Diet
Charlotte Mithril
1,
*
,
-, Lars Ove Dragsted
1
, Claus Meyer
2
, Inge Tetens
3
,
Anja Biltoft-Jensen
3
and Arne Astrup
1
1
Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg,
Denmark:
2
Meyers Madhus, Copenhagen, Denmark:
3
Division of Nutrition, National Food Institute,
Technical University of Denmark, Søborg, Denmark
Submitted 23 January 2012: Final revision received 1 August 2012: Accepted 23 August 2012
Abstract
Objective: To describe the dietary composition of the New Nordic Diet (NND)
and to compare it with the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR)/Danish
Food-based Dietary Guidelines (DFDG) and with the average Danish diet.
Design: Dietary components with clear health-promoting properties included in
the DFDG were included in the NND in amounts at least equivalent to those
prescribed by the DFDG. The quantities of the other dietary components in the
NND were based on scientific arguments for their potential health-promoting
properties together with considerations of acceptability, toxicological concerns,
availability and the environment. Calculations were conducted for quantifying
the dietary and nutrient composition of the NND.
Setting: Denmark.
Subjects: None.
Results: The NND is characterized by a high content of fruits and vegetables
(especially berries, cabbages, root vegetables and legumes), fresh herbs, potatoes,
plants and mushrooms from the wild countryside, whole gra ins, nuts, fish and
shellfish, seaweed, free-range livestock (including pigs and poultry) and game.
Overall, the average daily intakes of macro- and micronutrients in the NND meet the
NNR with small adjustments based on evidence of their health-promoting properties.
Conclusions: The NND is a prototype regional diet that takes palatability, health,
food culture and the environment into consideration. Regionally appropriate healthy
diets could be created on similar principles anywhere in the world.
Keywords
Diet
Health
Nordic
OPUS
The major determinants of the burden of disease today are
diet-related
(1,2)
.InDenmark,asintherestoftheworld,the
prevalence of overweight and obesity in both children and
adults has increased dramatically over the last 60 years
(3,4)
.
Obesity increases the risk of a wide range of serious
medical complications, including CVD, insulin resistance,
type 2 diab etes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, asth ma
and several cancers
(5)
. Ensuring that the population eats a
healthy diet therefore remains a public health challenge.
When making dietary recommendations it is important that
the diet is palatable and attractive to the consumer
(6)
,andit
has been suggested that tailoring the diet to regional con-
ditions is also of importa nce
(7)
.
The Danish research project OPUS was established to
investigate whether it is possible to develop a healthy
New Nordic Diet (NND) that is palatable, environmentally
friendly and based largely on foods originating from the
Nordic region. The overall aim of OPUS is to create
‘Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish
children through a healthy New Nordic Diet’.
The principles and guidelines of the NND are described
in a previous paper
(8)
. In summary, the following principles
were crucial in the development of the NND: health, gastro-
nomic potential, Nordic identity, and sustainability. These
principlesledtotheformulationofthreefundamental
guidelines as the basis of the NND as compared with the
current average Danish diet: (i) more calories from plant
foods and fewer from meat; (ii) more foods from the sea
and lakes; and (iii) more foods from the wild countryside.
The objective of the present paper is to describe the
dietary composition of the NND. A further objective is
to compare the dietary composition of the NND with
the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR)/Danish
Food-based Dietary Guidelines (DFDG) and the average
Danish diet.
Public Health Nutrition
yCorrespondence address: Madkulturen, Maglega
˚
rdsvej 12, 4000 Roskilde,
Denmark.
*Corresponding author: Email Charlotte@madkulturen.dk r The Authors 2012
Method
OPUS is a Danish project and two intervention studies
within the project are currently being carried out in
Denmark (one in overweight adults and one in healthy
schoolchildren), so food selection for the NND in this
context is based on the Danish market and food culture,
with reference to average dietary patterns in the Danish
population. The overall principles, guidelines and dietary
components can, however, easily be translated and
applied to any country in the world. In order to justify
the term ‘New Nordic Diet’, it is implicit that it should be
possible to apply both the selection of foods and the
nutrient contents directly in the Nordic or Northern Eur-
opean regions with minimal adjustments.
Each dietary component is chosen because of its pre-
sumed health-promoting potential, its distinct Nordic
identity, its gastronomic potential, and because it can be
produced in the Nordic region with consideration for the
environment. Dietary components with evident health-
promoting properties included in the DFDG (e.g. fruits,
vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, fish and shell-
fish) are included in the NND in at least the same amount
as in the DFDG
(9)
. The recommended intakes of the other
dietary components of the NND (e.g. fresh herbs, plants
and mushrooms from the wild countryside, seaweed,
meat and game) are based on scientific arguments for
their potential health-promoting properties together with
considerations of acceptability, toxicological concern,
availability and environmental sustainability.
A vailability and local food culture have also been con-
sidered in the selection of dietary components. We included
dietary components that are available in the Nordic region
in abundance and which are or could become easily
available in all localities with only reasonable exertions
made in regard to gathering, distribution, marketing, shop-
ping, etc. The challenges regarding the general availability
of the dietary components of the NND are a part of the
work currently being done in OPUS and will not be further
elaborated in the present paper .
Dietary calculations were conducted using the soft-
ware GIES system version 1?000d and the Danish Food
Composition Databank version 7 (National Food Institute,
Technical University of Denmark, Søborg, Denmark;
www.Foodcomp.dk) to quantify the dietary components
and nutrient composition of the NND. The NND was
designed to follow the NNR 2004 guidelines with respect
to the overall macro- and micronutrient composition.
Small adjustments were made when evidence for their
health-promoting properties made this appropriate. For
example, the NND aims to increase the intake of whole
grains, as the evidence suggests that a high intake
is associated with a reduction in the risk of several
diseases
(10)
; and the amount of protein in the NND is at
the high end of the recommended range, because recent
studies suggest that increased protein intake (20–25 % of
energy (E%)) may have a positive effect on the regulation
of body weight, prevent diabetes and have a mild blood
pressure-lowering effect
(11–13)
. It is important to bear in
mind that the NND is not a weight reduction diet, but is
an everyday diet developed for normal-weight people.
Results
Dietary components in the New Nordic Diet
Table 1 illustrates the suggested average daily intakes of
the dietary components in the NND compared with the
Public Health Nutrition
Table 1 Overview of the average daily content of the dietary components in the New Nordic Diet (NND) in relation to the Danish Food-
based Dietary Guidelines (DFDG)
(9)
and the average daily content in the Danish population
(14)
(A Biltoft-Jensen, unpublished results)
Dietary component
Average content in
the NND (g/d)
Recommended intake
in the DFDG (g/d)
Average content in the
Danish population (g/d)
Fruit and vegetables Fruit: .300 Fruit: 300 Fruit: 240
Vegetables: .400 Vegetables: 300 Vegetables: 181
Including
Berries 50–100 5
Cabbages .29 9
Root vegetables .150 38
Legumes .30 7
Fresh herbs As much as possible ,1
Potatoes .140 .140 106
Plants and mushrooms from
the wild countryside
5– ,1
Whole grains .75 75 36
Nuts .30 30 1
Fish and shellfish .43 29–43 22
Seaweed 5 ,1
Free-range livestock (including
pigs and poultry)
85–100 100 143
Including
Game .4– ,1
All figures are based on the energy-adjusted intake (per 10 MJ) of all persons aged 4–75 years.
2 C Mithril et al.
DFDG recommended intakes
(9)
and the average daily
intakes in the Danish population
(14)
(A Biltoft-Jensen,
unpublished results). The quantification of each dietary
component should not be seen as the definite amount but
rather as a guiding average amount. The figures are
average daily intake over a period of time, such as a
week, and not necessarily eaten each day in the specific
amount. For some dietary components (e.g. fruits and
vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, fish and shell-
fish, game) the figures are average minimum amounts,
while for others (e.g. plants and mushrooms from the
wild countryside, seaweed and free-range livestock) the
figures are more exact but still average amounts over
time, e.g. a week. All figures are calculated and expressed
per 10 MJ.
In the following each of the dietary components are
elaborated and compared with the DFD G and the average
daily inta ke in the Danish populat ion
(9,14)
(A Biltoft-Jensen,
unpublished results). The reasoning behind the selection of
the var ious dietary com ponents is published in a previou s
paper
(8)
.
Fruits and vegetables
The mean intake of fruit (including berries) and vegetables
(including cabbages, root vegetables and legumes) in the
average Danish adult population is just over 400 g/d,
although the recommended intake is 600 g/d for adults and
children over 10 years
(9,14)
(A Biltoft-Jensen, unpublished
results; Table 1). Studies have shown that with an increasing
intake of fruits or vegetables there is a proportional decrease
in the risk of CVD
(15,16)
, overweight and obesity
(17)
and
probably of certain cancers
(18,19)
. Fruit and vegetables
therefore play an important role in the NND and the tar-
geted intake was set to 700 g/d (Table 1).
Specific fruits and vegetables were designated as more
identifiable with the Nordic regions: berries, cabbages,
root vegetables and legumes. These were selected because
of their potential health-promoting properties, clear Nordic
identity and environmentally sustainable production. Ber-
ries are a popular fruit; theyarefoundinabundancein
the wild and in season are freely accessible to the public.
Berries are a good source for vitamins, minerals and dietary
fibre, and they contain considerable amounts of poly-
phenols, especially anthocyanins
(20,21)
. The intake of berries
in the NND is 50–100 g/d as opposed to the mean intake in
theDanishpopulationofonly5g/d(Table1).Cabbages
and root vegetables can be a part of everyday meals all year
around, and the intake in the NND is set at approximately
29 and 150 g/d, respectively, compared with the current
average mean intake in the Danish population of 9 and
38 g/d, respectively (Table 1). Root vegetables are rich
sources of dietary fibre, vitamins (especially A, B and C
vitamins) and minerals (especially Ca and Fe in beetroot),
but they have not been extensively explored for non-
nutritive components of possible importance to health. In
contrast, several studies indicate that cabbages may have
specific health-promoting properties, e.g. as a prophylactic
for cancer, above the general health benefits obtained from
eating fruits and vegetab les
(22–26)
. Cabbages have a high
content of vitamin K, antioxidants, dietary fibre, folate, and
of several carotenoids and glucosinolates that are not foun d
in other foods. The increased intake of legumes in the NND
is design ed to increase the amou nt of protein obtained
from plant sources in order to reduce pressure on the
environment. The amount of legumes in the NND is
30 g/d, while the mean intake in the Danish population
today is 7 g/d (Table 1). Some legumes are also sources of
phyto-oestrogens whi ch may be involved in protecti on
agains t CVD
(27)
.
Fresh herbs
In the Middle Ages fresh herbs played a major role in the
Danish kitchen, but their use has decreased significantly
over time. In recent decades exotic dried spices hav e
partially tak en their plac e
(28,29)
. The current intake of fresh
herbs in the Danish popul at ion is almost non-existent (less
than 1 g/d; A Biltoft-Jensen, unpublished results; Table 1).
In analogy to the current more abundantly used Medi-
terranean herbs such as thyme and oregano, the traditional
Nordic he rbs such as dill, parsley an d chives ar e rich
sources of aromat ic terpenoids and of phytochemicals that
mayhavehealth-promotingproperties
(30)
. Fresh herbs ar e
rich in vitamins and minerals, par ticularly vitamin C and Fe .
TheintakeoffreshherbsintheNNDwassetashighas
possible in order to exploi t their gastronom ic properties
and potential health benefits. There are no official recom-
mendations for intake of fresh herbs today.
Potatoes
Consumption of potat oes has fallen steadily since the
introduction of rice and pasta to the Nor dic count ries an d
the average intake in the Danish population is now 106 g/d
(A Biltoft-Jensen, unp ublished results; Table 1). Potatoes
are an important source of dieta ry fibre, vitamins B
6
and C,
folate, Fe, K and Mg in the Danish diet
(14)
and it ha s been
recommended that the average daily intake of potatoes
should be increased to a minimum of 140 g (DFDG;
Table 1). In addition, potatoes are am ong the foods tha t
have the least nega tive environmental impact
(31)
.The
intake of potatoes in the NND follows the DFDG of a
minimum average da ily intake of 140 g (Table 1). It should
be emphasized that in thi s context pota to in the form of
crisps,chips,Frenchfries,etc.isexcluded.
Plants and mushrooms from the wild countryside
At present the Danish population eats practically no plants
and mushrooms from the wild countryside (less than 1 g/d;
Table 1). These foods have both health-promoting and
gastronomic potential
(8)
and intake in the NND is therefore
increased to 5 g/d (Table 1). However, wild plants have a
high content of bioactive components, some of which can
be toxic in large quantities. The daily intake of 5 g of edible
Public Health Nutrition
The New Nordic Diet, part 2 3
wild plants and mushrooms in the NND corresponds, even
for children, to a maximum intake of any one constituent
of below 30 mg/kg body weight per d. This should give
rise to no concerns regarding toxicology for the plants
included in the NND
(32)
.
Whole grains
There is str ong evidence that whol e grains ha ve a health-
promoting potential
(10)
and the DFDG recommend an
average intake of 75 g/d (Table 1). Studies have show n a
significant inverse association between intake of whole
grains and risk of CVD
(33,34)
,type2diabetes
(35)
,cancer
(36)
,
and weight gain or risk of obesity
(37)
. The average intake in
the Danish population is only 36 g/d, i.e. less than half the
recommended amoun t (Table 1). The quan tity of whole
grains in the NND is a minimum of 75 g/d (Table 1).
Nuts
Nuts have a documented health-promoting potential and an
intake of 30 g/d is recommended by the DFDG (Table 1).
There is some scientific evidence that consumption of nuts is
associated with a reduced risk of CVD
(38,39)
and weight gain
and obesity
(40)
. The health-promoting effects of nuts are
probably due to their high content of MUF A, protein, dietary
fibre, vitamins (especially vitamin E, but also B vitamins,
particularly folic acid, niacin and B
6
) and minerals (parti-
cularly Mg and K)
(41)
. Nuts have a lot of flavour and can
be used as an alternative to sweets and to make salads,
muesli and bread more appetizing. The average intake
of nuts is currently about 1 g/d in the Danish population
(Table 1). The amount in the NND is at least 30 g/d
(Table 1). Only unsalted, non-oiled nuts are included.
Fish and shellfish
Fish and shellfish have a significant health-promoting
potential and regular fish consumption is recommended
(42)
.
The DFDG recommends intakes of 200 to 300 g/week,
corresponding to an average intake of 29–43 g/d
(9)
(Table 1).
Fatty fish contain high amounts of n-3 fatty acids, which
have been shown to improve child brain development
and help prevent CVD and nervous disorders in adults
(43)
.
In addition, fish and shellfish have a high content of
valuable vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D,
iodine and Se, which are difficult to find naturally in
other foods. High-quality fish are abundant in the Nordic
region, but a large part of the catch is exported. Different
species of fish contain different amounts of vitamins,
minerals and fatty acids. Intake should therefore be
alternated between fatty and lean species and between
different origins (Atlantic, Baltic, freshwater) in order to
get the full health benefits while minimizing risks due to
pollution with organohalides, As and heavy metals. The
average intake in the Danish population is 22 g/d far
below the recommended intake (Table 1). The amount
included in the NND is 43 g/d corresponding to an intake
of 300 g/week (Table 1).
Seaweed
Seaweed is an overlooked source of nutrition in the
Western world and the intake in the Danish population is
close to zero (Table 1), although is was previously part of
the poor man’s diet all along the Nordic coastline
(44)
.
Seaweed has a high content of essential minerals, protein,
dietary fibre, vitamins (A, B, C, E) and essential fatty
acids
(44)
. It also has a range of bioactive compounds,
which may be beneficial in relation to CVD and have a
potential antiviral and anticancer effect
(45)
. The composi-
tion of seaweeds varies greatly with species and region
origin, and these can give rise to some concerns, including
risks from relatively high contents of iodine. The majority
of seaweeds in the Nordic region are edible and non-toxic,
but the NND recommendations are set at 5 g/d (fresh
weight) because of the high iodine content in certain
species (Table 1) .
Free-range livestock (including pigs and poultry)
and game
Consumption of meat has almost doubled in the Nordic
countries over the past 50 years and today the average
intake in the Danish population is 143 g/d
(14,46)
(Tab le 1).
There are no official quantitative guidelines for intake of
meat in Denmark, but an average intake of 100 g/d per adult
person is considered adequate
(47)
. Meat is among the least
environmentally friendly foods; the NND seeks to decrease
the intake of meat and replace it with more environmentally
friendly protein sources such as fish and shellfish, legumes
and nuts. The recommendation for dietary protein in
Denmark is currently 10–20 E%, which corresponds to
0?8to1?6g/kgbodyweight
(42)
. The amount of energ y from
protein in the NND is set at a minimum of 1 g/kg body
weight, which can easily be achieved by a meat intake of
85–100 g/d combined with other sources of protein (e.g. fish
and shellfish, wholegrain, vegetables, nuts, milk, cheese and
eggs). Women of childbearing age must ensure sufficient Fe
in their diet and should therefore have an intake of meat at
the high end of the recommendation. The high content
of fruit and vegetables in the NND gives a hig h intake of
vitamin C, which stimulates Fe absorption in the body,
and a greater proportion of the Fe intake in the NND is
therefore expected to be absorbed, thereby helping further
to compensate the Fe loss in these women.
The NND focuses on meat from free-range animals, for
reasons of sustainability and gastronomy, and potentially
also for health. Studies have shown that meat from
animals that graze has a healthier fatty acid composition,
with less saturated fat and more polyunsaturated fat, than
meat from animals reared indoors without access to
grass
(48,49)
. In addition, the NND has a higher content
of game. Game is unique in gastronomy, because the
animals have fed on plants that reflect the specific climate
and landscapes of the region. The intake of game in
the NND is 4 g/d, as opposed to the current intake in the
Danish population of less than 1 g/d (Table 1).
Public Health Nutrition
4 C Mithril et al.
Other dietary components
The intakes of other di etary components in the NND follow
the DFDG, e.g. dairy products (500 g/d for milk, 25 g/d for
cheese), egg s (25 g/d), beverages, sweets, etc
(9)
. We make
no further elaboration on these dietary components here,
as they do not differ from the DFDG.
Nutritional content of the New Nordic Diet
The following overview of the macro- and micronutrients
in the NND was calculated from a full day’s diet including
the dietary components in Table 1, dairy products
and eggs according to the recommended daily intake,
25 g/d for butter/oil, 15 g/d for sugar, and with a daily
allowance of sweets, alcohol, etc. of 75 g/d (Appendix).
Some of the dietary components in the NND are missing
in the nutritional databases and best estimates have been
made for items such as fresh herbs, plants and mush-
rooms from the wild countryside and seaweed. The result
should therefore not be regarded as definitive for the
NND. Tables 2 and 3 present the average daily intakes of
macro- and micronutrients in the NND compared with
the recommended intake according to the NNR and
the average daily intake in the Danish population
(14,42)
(A Biltoft-Jensen, unpublished results). All figures are for
groups of individuals 10–75 years of age (for alcohol the
age group is 18–75 years). The values in Table 3 are
adapted for the reference person requiring the highest
dietary nutrient density.
Macronutrient distribution in the New Nordic Diet
As shown in Table 2, the average diet of the Danish adult
population provides 14 E% from protein, 33 E% from fat,
48 E% from carbohydrate and 6 E% from alcohol
(15)
.By
comparison, the recommended energy distribution
according to the NNR is 30 E% from fat, 55 E% from
carbohydrate, 15 E% from protein and maximum 5 E%
Public Health Nutrition
Table 2 Overview of the average daily composition and intakes of protein, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol as a percentage of total energy
intake (E%) for the New Nordic Diet (NND), the recommended intake according to the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR)
(42)
and the
average composition of the diet in the Danish population
(14,42)
Average composition
of the NND
Recommended
intake from NNR
Average composition of the diet
in the Danish population
Protein (E%) 17 15 14
Fat (E%) 32 30 33
SFA (E%) 10 #10 14
MUFA (E%) 13 10–15 12
PUFA (E%) 8 5–10 5
Carbohydrates (E%) 51 55 48
Dietary fibre (g) 41 25–35 23
Refined sugars (E%) 4 #10 11
Alcohol (E%) 1 #56
All figures are for groups of individuals 10–75 years of age, with a heterogeneous age and sex distribution (for alcohol, 18–75 years of age).
Table 3 Overview of the average daily composition and intakes of nutrients in the New Nordic Diet (NND) in relation to the intake
recommended by the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR)
(42)
and the average composition of the diet in the Danish population
(14,42)
Nutrient
Average composition
of the NND
Recommended intake
from NNR
Average composition of the diet in
the Danish population
Vitamin A (RE) 1556 800 1148?5
Vitamin D (mg) 5 10 3?3
Vitamin E (a-TE) 15 9 7?6
Thiamin (mg) 1?81?21?4
Riboflavin (mg) 2?11?41?8
Niacin (NE) 36 16 31
Vitamin B
6
(mg) 2?01?31?6
Folate (mg) 528 450 341
Vitamin B
12
(mg) 7?12 5?5
Vitamin C (mg) 266 80 123
Ca (mg) 1351 1000 1226
P (mg) 1976 800 1559
K (g) 5?13?53?6
Mg (mg) 476 350 365
Fe (mg) 14 16 10?8
Zn (mg) 14 11 11?7
Cu (mg) 3?51
Iodine (mg) 590 170 216
Se (mg) 56 40 46
RE, retinol equivalents; a-TE, a-tocopherol equivalents; NE, niacin equivalents.
All figures are based on the energy-adjusted intake per 10 MJ for groups of individuals 10–75 years of age, with a heterogeneous age and sex distribution (for
the NNR, 6–60 years of age). The values are adapted to the reference person requiring the highest dietary nutrient density.
The New Nordic Diet, part 2 5
from alcohol
(42)
. The excess fat intake in the Danish
population is primarily of SFA, where the content is
14 E% compared with the recommended level of max-
imum 10 E%. The Danish population has an average
intake of dietary fibre of 23 g/d compared with the
recommended intake of 25–35 g/d, and about 25 % of
adults in the Danish population consume more added
sugars than the recommended maximum of 10 E%
(14)
.
The NND provides 17 E% from protein, 32 E% from
fat, 51 E% from carbohydrate and 1 E% from alcohol.
The quantity of SFA follows the recommendations of
10 E%, and the intake of dietary fibre of 41 g/d exceeds the
recommendations. The intake of refined sugar in the NND
is limited to 4 E%.
The energy intake from fat is slightly higher in the
NND compared with the recommended intake, but was
accepted for the gas tronomic properties. How th is diet
will affect body weight in overweight sub jects remains to
be tested.
Micronutrient distribution in the New Nordic Diet
The micronutrient content of the average Danish diet is
generally sufficient as defined in the NNR, apart from
a few exception s (Table 3). The Dani sh diet contains
abundant amou nts of vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, B
12
,
vitamin C, Ca, P an d iodine. The conte nts of vitami n E,
thiamin, vitami n B
6
, K, Mg, Zn and Se are acceptable.
The vitamin D content is too low in all age groups and
the folate and Fe conte nts are insufficient for man y females
of fertile ag e.
The amount of all nutrients other than vitamin D and Fe
is abundant in the NND (Table 3). The vitamin D content
of the NND is 5 mg/d as opposed to 3 mg/d in the average
Danish diet, while the Fe content of the NND is 14 mg/d as
opposed to 11 mg/d in the average Danish diet (Table 3).
Females of childbearing age might benefit from additional
dietary Fe, so the NND recommends that they eat 100 g of
meat daily. Like everyone else in Nordic countries, popu-
lations eating the NND need to ensure an appropriate
intake of vitamin D-rich products, especially during the
winter when sunlight is scarce and vitamin D synthesis
limited. The NND has a relatively high content of iodine,
due to the fortification of kitchen salt in Denmark with
iodine and the relatively high content of iodine in milk
because the animal feed is also fortified with iodine.
The iodine content of Danish seaweeds is not known
and we have therefore used data for species with the
highest content of iodine in the calculations, estimating the
worst-case scenario. The estimated upper level (UL) for
iodine is 600 mg/d and the amount of iodine in the NND is
acceptable
(42)
. There is no figure for the content of salt
in the NND, since the level of salt in the diet is very
dependent on the amount added to food during cooking.
The NND is not a specific low-salt diet, but is aimed at
following the NNR with regard to the level of salt in the
diet, which is a maximum of 5–6 g/d
(42)
.
Discussion
Nordic foods have become gastronomically highly appre-
ciated internationally, but as a Northern European food
culture the Nordic regional diets have not been regarded as
healthy. The low carbon footprint of locally produced
foods makes them the more sustainable choice. The NND is
an attempt to addr ess all these aspects and to create a diet
with all three characteristics, i.e. being tasty, healthy and
sustainable
(8)
. A diet bas ed on Nordic foods an d th e NNR
within the Swedish tradition has already been tested in a
small human dietary study and results indicated consider-
able health potentials of this approach
(50)
. Another study on
Nordic foods concluded that traditional healthy Nordic
foods were found to be related to lower mortality among
middle-aged Danes, in particular among men
(51)
. However,
the principles governing a des igned diet such as the NND
are not easily translated into food choices and menus. For
the NND, we suggest here choices of actual foods that are
consistent with the guidelines for the NND and which at the
same time are in general agreement with the NNR with
respect to nutrient distribution. The composition of the
NND deviates slight ly from the NNR, most notably in the
higher fibre intake due to the high fruit, vegetable, legume
and whole grains con tent, and for some of th ese the level is
above that recommended in the DFDG. The re is evidence
that these higher levels may potentially have a positive
effect on health and there are no obvious contraindications.
The increased intak e of vitam in C and of non-haem Fe
should lead to improved Fe status in women, and the high
content of legumes and fish should balance out the relative
decrease in prot ein intake from meat.
Precise nutrient composition of many of the dietary
components included in the NND is missing from the
food composition databases. The risk of errors in our
calculations of the nutrient content of the NND should
therefore be taken into consideration. Some of the more
unusual constituents of the NND, such as wild plants
and seaweeds, require careful examination of the risk of
adverse effects. This will be examined in more detail
elsewhere, but we already know that the iodine content
is, conservatively calculated, in excess of the recom-
mended UL for safety. This may be attributable to the
limitations of the data available on the different seaweeds,
leading to an exaggerated mean level of iodine in sea-
weeds in the estimations. The limitations of the food
composition databases underline the gaps in our general
knowledge of the safety and/or potential benefits of food
components such as seaweeds and wild plants. Further
research is needed in order to pave the way for safe and
healthy use of these resources in dietary improvements.
The dietary components and suggested intake of each
food in the current paper are not intended to be an
unequivocal final answer, but rather as one of several
possible suggestions for a Danish version of a healthy and
sustainable regional diet. The dietary components have
Public Health Nutrition
6 C Mithril et al.
been used to develop a range of specific recipes for the
OPUS intervention studies and selected recipes have
recently been published in a Danish cookbook
(52)
.Aswe
test the NND we should learn more about how to develop
it further.
Concluding remarks
The NND is a prototype regional diet with concern for
palatability, heal th, foo d cul ture and the env ironment.
Similar regional ly adapted diets could be create d using
these principles any where in th e world. The princ iples can
be used to create diets that respect the existi ng dietary
guidelines using local produce and create recipes that are
consistent with the local food culture and acceptable in the
population. The effectuat ion of the NND in a free-living
population and its possible health effects are currently
being tested with an ai m to provide proo f of principle for
the construction of a healthy New Nordic Diet.
Acknowledgements
Sources of funding: The present study is a part of the OPUS
project. OPUS is an acronym of the Danish title of the
project ‘Optimal well-being, development and health for
Danish chi ldren through a healthy New Nordic Diet’ . The
OPUS Centre is supported by gr ant from the Nordea
Foundation, Denmark, and is independent of all commer-
cial inte r ests. Conflict of interest: C. Mi thril, L.O.D., I.T . and
A.B.-J. have no conflicts of interest. C. Meyer is an owner of
restaurants, food companies and a cooking school, and the
New Nordic Cuisine is a theme in most of C. Meyer’s
companies. A.A. is an ad visor, an advisory board membe r
or a scientific boa rd member for th e Communicat ions and
Scientific Advisory Board of The Global Dairy Platform
(Chicago, IL, USA), the Kraft Health & Wellness Advisory
Council (Glenview, IL, USA), the Beer Kno wledge Institu te
(Amsterdam, The Netherlands), the Pathway Genomics
Corporation (La Jolla, CA, USA) and Jennie Craig (Carlsbad,
CA, USA); an d receives honoraria as a speaker and research
funding from a wide range of Danish and international
concerns. Auth ors’ contribut ions: The draft pap er was
elaborated by C. Mithril based on an OPUS report on the
NND, which was developed by C. Mithril in close colla-
boration with C. Meyer , E. Blauert, M.K. Holt, L.O.D. an d
A.A. and with dietary input from I.T. and A.B.-J . L.O.D., I. T.
and A.B.-J. helped C. Mithril shape the draft paper into its
final form which was then approved with minor corrections
by the other co-authors. Acknowledgements: The authors
thank the Advisory Boards assisting OPUS Work Package 1
and the participants at the OPUS congress held in Ju ne 2009
in Copenh agen for their valuab le input and he lp in the
development of th e NND. They also greatly th ank dietiti an
Karin Hess Ygil from DTU Food for making the dietary
calculations of the NND.
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Appendix
Overview of the dietary composition of an example of a full day’s diet in the New Nordic Diet (NND) used
for calculating the nutritional content of the NND
Public Health Nutrition
Dietary component Average content in the NND (g/d)
Fruits 350 in total
Fruit assorted (excluding juice) 250
Berries 75
Apple juice 50
Vegetables 450 in total
Cabbages 30
Root vegetables 150
Legumes, fresh 20
Legumes, dried 10 (dry weight) 5 25 (boiled)
Other vegetables 240
Fresh herbs 1
Potatoes 175
Plants and mushrooms from the wild countryside 5
Wholegrain bread/cereals 275
Nuts and seeds 30
Fish and shellfish 43
Seaweed 5
Free-range livestock (including pigs and poultry) 100 in total
Low-fat meat 76
High-fat meat 20
Game 4
Milk and dairy products 525 in total
Low-fat milk 450
High-fat milk 30
Cream (9% fat) 20
Low-fat cheese 12
High-fat cheese 13
Butter 10
Rapeseed oil 15
Eggs 25
Sugar 15
Beverages 1000 in total
Water 600
Coffee/tea 400
Daily allowance for e.g. 75 in total
Soft drinks 28
Alcohol 28
Candy and ice cream 4
Cake 6
Chips 1
Fast food 8
All figures are based on the energy-adjusted intake (per 10 MJ) of all persons aged 4–75 years.
The New Nordic Diet, part 2 9
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... The significance of meat as a source of protein can certainly be achieved with an average meat intake of 85-100 g⋅day − 1 . The NND typically includes meat from free-range livestock and game due to their nutritional and sustainability advantages (Costa et al., 2016;Elgersma, 2015;Mithril et al., 2013). In addition, beef contributes with a significant percentage (19%) to the total meat consumption in Galicia (MAPA, 2019). ...
... Thus, it was considered the only source of fat. Regarding the latter, the amount of refined sugar in the NND was restricted to 4% as a percentage of total energy intake (Mithril et al., 2013). ...
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... .), palatable, environmentally friendly and based largely on foods originating from the Nordic region". 27 Sustainability was stated by NND designers as a crucial principle in its development. The NND was designed to contain 35% less meat than the average Danish diet; more whole-grain products, nuts, fruit, and vegetables; locally grown food in season; and >75% organic produce. ...
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