The Mediterranean diet, hailed as possibly the world’s healthiest, may have some new competition

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
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The Mediterranean diet, with it's long-standing reputation as one of the healthiest out there, may have some new competition. A Nordic-style regimen-which emphasizes berries, canola oil, fatty fish, whole grains, and root vegetables-helps protect your heart, lower bad cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and even lower your body fat, studies find. Most of that is thanks to the diet's anti-inflammatory effect, says Matti Uusitupa, M.D., Ph.D., a Nordic-diet researcher and professor at the University of Eastern Finland. In fact, a Nordic diet even reduces the activity of inflammatory genes, which have a partial role in causing health issues in the overweight, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. Put your diet on the Nordic track with these healthy additions.

Fish

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Eat three or more servings of fish a week-aim for two of fatty fish (like salmon, herring, rainbow trout, or whitefish) and one of a lean variety (like pike or perch). Other good protein sources include low-fat dairy (two or more portions a day), lean red meats, and white meat poultry.

Whole Grains

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A quarter or more of your calories should come from whole grains, with at least half of those from rye, barley, and oats. (Have you sworn off wheat? This might make you reconsider: Low Carb Diet Linked to Shorter Life Expectancy.)

Berries

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Include at least 1 to 1 ½ cups of berries in your daily diet. Go beyond strawberries and blueberries to consider less familiar choices, like lingonberries and black currants.

Canola Oil

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Use vegetable-based oils, and make sure that at least two-thirds of your fats are unsaturated. Avoid trans fats. (Check out 8 New Healthy Oils to Cook With Oil.)

Fruits and Vegetables

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Eat 1 ½ cups or more of a variety each day-especially root vegetables, cabbage, and dark crucifers. Munch on at least one piece of whole fruit daily. Try and stick to seasonal options, though. (Check out The 5 Healthiest Winter Vegetables and Fruits.)

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