Home / Health / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Reindeer and meatballs for dinner: Researchers promote Nordic diet to curb obesity
Adjust font size:

Forget the olive oil and sundried tomatoes - and pass the herring and meatballs.

Scandinavian food is being touted as a healthier, more convenient alternative to the much-feted Mediterranean diet.

The scientist behind the advice also believes that reindeer steaks and wild berries might be more to Britons' taste than pasta and pesto.

Professor Arne Astrup, a world authority on obesity, is heading a project to develop a 'Nordic Diet' which caters to the tastes of Northern Europeans and capitalises on foods easily grown and produced in colder climates.

The Danish researcher said: 'The plan is to develop a counterpart to the Mediterranean diet that is superior in terms of health and palatability.'

The researchers point out that Northern European green leafy vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts and cabbages, have some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable.

And Norwegian studies show that the country's native fruits - such as blueberries, cowberries and cloudberries - are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

They are also bursting with antioxidants, which mop up dangerous molecules that can cause heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The Mediterranean diet has been one of the most lauded eating plans of the past two decades.

Its combination of high levels of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and cereals - and low amounts of red meat and dairy products - has been shown to combat heart disease, diabetes and obesity. But studies show that Northern Europeans find it hard to stick to this range of foods.

Professor Astrup, of the University of Copenhagen, added: 'There is increasing evidence that the fat in meat is not as unhealthy as we are led to believe.

'The protein content of low-fat dairy products, healthy fish and lean beef is very beneficial if you want to feel full for fewer calories. To maintain a healthy body weight, these parts of the diet should not be excluded.'

Salmon, trout, cod and herring also feature in traditional Nordic diets, as well as lean meat from elk and reindeer, said the professor. He added that the rate of obesity in Scandinavia-is around 60 per cent of that in the UK.

'We want to create something that can go up against the trend-setters like McDonald's, something that people will stick to,' he said. 'At least some British people will like it very much.'

Enlarge Professor Astrup, who is president of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, showed last year that Atkins-like high-protein diets can stop slimmers from piling the pounds back on.

In contrast, the popular GI diet, which distinguishes between 'good' and 'bad' carbohydrates, does nothing to prevent weight from creeping back up.

Professor Astrup said that results from a study of 250 male and female dieters showed that proteins, not carbohydrates, were the key to winning the battle of the bulge.

The study's participants were asked to follow one of four diets for six months to work out the best strategy for maintaining weight loss.

The diets contained either high or low levels of protein, coupled with high or low GI foods.

Low glycaemic index, or GI, foods - such as porridge and wholemeal bread - are said to curb hunger pangs, while white bread and rice are high GI and should be avoided.

The professor said that at the end of the study, those following a highprotein diet had done best. They had barely gained any weight, no matter what the GI rating of their meals.

However, those on a low-protein diet had piled on the pounds - even when eating lots of supposedly healthy low GI carbohydrates. It is thought the results can be explained by protein's ability to make us feel full. Protein is also more effective at speeding up the metabolism.

(Agencies via China Daily March 19, 2009)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>