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This Diet Lowers Cholesterol & Blood Sugar Without Weight Loss, Says New Study

This way of eating includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and plenty of fatty fish.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

We can learn a lot about healthy eating from other parts of the world. For instance, we have the Blue Zones, which are the five healthiest regions in the world whose daily practices have been revered and researched heavily for decades. And recently, another part of the globe has some attention for their dietary practices in Northern Europe.

A recent study published in Clinical Nutrition found that following the Nordic Diet could not only help an individual lose weight, but it can help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels without weight loss being involved.

Continue reading to learn more about this study's significant findings and how it might affect you. And for more healthy eating tips, check out 5 Diet Secrets of the Longest Living People in the World.

First, let's talk about the Nordic Diet

fatty fish

The Nordic Diet is based on the foods that you can find locally in Nordic areas like Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. These foods include things like fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), lower-fat dairy products, fruit (specifically berries), vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

The diet originated in 2004 as a way to help lower cases of obesity while also improving the environmental practices of local farmers. Since then, it's gotten worldwide attention for its health results.

The study's methods

Whole grain bread

The new study followed about 200 participants who were all considered overweight and had some common characteristics of metabolic syndrome.

As a note, metabolic syndrome is a grouping of conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abdominal obesity.

The study participants followed either the Nordic Diet or their typical diets (which was the control group). Researchers also asked the participants to maintain a stable weight throughout the whole process, which they did by eating more food if they were losing weight in the process.

The results of the study

bowl of berries

After a six-month follow-up, it was found that the participants who remained on the Nordic diet had significant health improvements in their blood and urine samples.

They had lower cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar and better blood glucose regulation, and better levels of saturated fat in their blood.

Possibly the most fascinating component of these results is that since the researchers kept the participants' weight stabilized, their body weight really didn't have much to do with their health improvements. While weight loss is still important in these health outcomes, it's not the only factor.

What this means for us

eating yogurt

So what does this mean for us? Well, there are still some unanswered questions about which characteristics of the Nordic diet led to such promising results, but Science Daily says it could possibly have something to do with the higher levels of healthy fats-particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The Nordic diet is high in these healthy fats and consists of plenty of fiber and lean protein, which is opposite in many ways to a typical diet consumed by many Americans.

More research needs to be done to dive deeper into these findings, but until then, we can start applying some of these dietary principles to our daily lives and hopefully start seeing some encouraging results.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha