New Nordic Nutrition Recommendations Emphasize Plant-Based Diet for Health and Environment

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The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023, which focuses on both health and the environment, represents the largest update in the report’s 40-year history.

The updated recommendations are now regarded as the most extensive scientific foundation worldwide for achieving a healthy diet that benefits both human well-being and the planet.

The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023

Published by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations are the result of a years-long collaboration among the Nordic countries. The report offers an evidence-based foundation that supports the development of dietary guidelines for each nation, which, in turn, influence menus in schools, hospitals, and other public-sector kitchens.

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“The report we’re receiving today will help people in the Nordics to eat in a way that’s healthy and environmentally friendly,” said Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Hundreds of Nordic and international researchers worked on the report; the methodology aligns with global standards, and an eight-week public consultation preceded the publication, ensuring transparency. The report has already sparked extensive discussions in several Nordic countries, particularly due to the expectation that it would recommend reducing red meat consumption — a position consistent with global research on the environment and climate.

‘Synergies can be forged between health and the environment’

The recommendations are rooted in scientific research on food consumption, health, and the environment. According to Rune Blomhoff, project leader for the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023 and professor at the University of Oslo, the report provides a scientific basis that demonstrates that a healthy diet is usually also sustainable. “Several great synergies can be forged between health and the environment in the necessary transition of our food consumption,” Blomhoff said.

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The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023 examine the impact of 36 nutrients and 15 food groups on health. They promote a predominantly plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, berries, legumes, potatoes, and whole grains and limited alcohol, processed foods, and excess sodium and sugar.

The launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations has earned international praise; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), commended the report. “I congratulate the Nordic Council of Ministers on an impressive report and the inclusive process of public consultations,” he said in a statement. “The overall recommendation to switch to a plant-based diet is in line with current scientific literature.”

The new recommendations come after a report from the World Resources Institute found widespread adoption of healthier food across China could yield a “triple win” — improving health, food security, and environmental sustainability.


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