Nordic Diet May Help Overweight-Obese Individuals Avoid Complications

Nordic Diet May Help Overweight-Obese Individuals Avoid Complications


A health-promoting Nordic diet was found to reduce the expression of inflammation-associated genes in adipose tissue. In overweight adults recruited from 3 Nordic SYSDIET centers, the expression of inflammation-associated genes was found to be reduced without weight loss. The unfavorable health effects of being overweight are thought to be caused by an inflammatory state in adipose tissue.

The study entitled “Healthy Nordic diet down regulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue in individuals with features of the metabolic syndrome“, was recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Evidence from a recent pan-Nordic randomized dietary intervention study (Systems Biology in Controlled Dietary Interventions and Cohort Studies) (SYSDIET) showed that a healthy Nordic diet (ND) brings beneficial health effects similar to the ones found in Mediterranean diets. The Nordic Diet includes whole-grain cereal products; local berries, fruits, and vegetables; fish; low-fat or fat-free milk products; rapeseed oil; and vegetable oil–based margarines. All these foods have been shown to have beneficial effects on one’s health and may potentially have an effect on adipose tissue metabolism.

In order to explore how a healthy Nordic diet (ND) impacts gene expression in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and if changes in gene expression are associated with health effects, Marjukka Kolehmainen from the University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition in Finland and colleagues randomized 56 obese adults. For 18 to 24 weeks, half of the patients followed a dietary regimen involving whole grain products, vegetables, root vegetables, berries, fruit, low-fat dairy products, rapeseed oil and three servings of fish per week. The other half of the participants followed a regimen of low-fibre grain products, butter-based spreads, with limited fish intake. Adipose tissue was collected at baseline and at follow-up, and trascriptomics analyses were conducted on these tissues in order to assess gene expression.

Results from this study showed that a total of 128 genes were differently expressed in the subcutaneous adipose tissue of the two study groups. The group under the ND diet presented less inflammation-associated genes than the group under a standard diet. Based on these findings, researchers concluded that a healthy Nordic diet is able to reduce inflammatory gene expression in adipose tissue, independent of body weight change.

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