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Rye bread wins dieticians’ hearts

Life Science researchers think they know the secret to staying fit. And it was on their dinner table the whole time.

Test subject number five, Camille, brings her groceries to the checkout counter: A little bit of fish, some Heinz ketchup, a loaf of Rugbrød, a cucumber, a small bag of grains. Camille’s groceries look like your average Danish purchase at the average Danish grocery store.

However, on the screen at the cashier appears a complex listing of the exact nutritional value of every ounce of food in Camille’s basket.

The cashier might see that she has bought too many carbohydrates, and ask her to put some potatoes back. Later, Camille will be tested, weighed, prodded and poked to determine just how effective this diet is.

Exclusively Nordic

Her diet is not average — in fact it is the opposite of what a team of researchers call the Average Danish Diet (ADD) in a new, six-month long study headed by the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Her diet is the New Nordic Diet (NND), and it’s part of the OPUS project, a study that began last month to determine the health benefits of Nordic ingredients and recipes.

The project has three objectives: to define Nordic cuisine, to test the health benefits of the cuisine and later, see if this diet will improve the lives of school children. But for now, Danish researchers are concerned with in finding a diet of their own.

»Having one, regionally specific diet, is challenging in a globalized world« says Thomas Larsen, associate professor in the department of human nutrition. »But at least we want to assure Scandinavians that there is a Nordic alternative that is tasty and healthy and that is considerate of nature.«

Apples that don’t fall far from the trees

Approximately 120 participants of the study will be eating a lot of meals with fish, root vegetables, berries, cabbage, oats, rye and grain.

Most of the food is organic and produced locally, because it tends to taste better that way, Larsen says. Participants are provided free food by the research project, and given a recipe book with a rigid cycle of meals.

Larsen says that these kinds of foods are healthy on their own, but that they are best grown and produced in Northern Europe. He says he thinks this diet will do better in terms of weight control and body composition than the control group, which will enjoy the more flexible ADD.

»Many Northern Europeans who tried the Mediterranean diet didn’t have access to the same quality of ingredients that southern Europeans did. If the diet doesn’t taste good, forget it!« Larsen says.

And it tastes good

One of the study’s main researchers is Claus Meyer, who co-owns the famed NOMA restaurant, recently named the best restaurant in the world. Assuredly an expert in Nordic cuisine, Meyers is helping to select the recipes and ingredients that both adhere to the diet and are delicious to eat.

The study will be finished in approximately five more months, after which, researchers will know for sure whether the NND helps its consumers to lose weight and build a healthy body.

See the OPUS project’s recipes to conduct your own experiments with Nordic food.

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