RSSNordic diet reduces inflammatory gene expression

Posted on Mon, 1 Feb 16

Nordic diet reduces inflammatory gene expression

A healthy traditional Nordic diet has been shown to alter 128 genes in fat tissue, most related to reductions in inflammation which is though to be responsible for atherosclerosis and heart disease. 

The Nordic diet is a healthy dietary guideline based on traditional food specific to the Nordic regions, in the same way that the traditional Mediterranean diet is culturally specific to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. 

The traditional Nordic diet has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, so to find out why a group of researchers from the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland decided to see if there were changes in inflammatory gene expression in fat tissue of overweight people following the diet (1). Inflammation is though to be one of the main reasons poor dietary habits and overweight increase heart disease risk.  

For 18 to 24 weeks, half of the people in the study ate Nordic diet including whole-grain products, berries, fruits and vegetables, rapeseed oil, and three fish meals per week and avoided sugar-sweetened products while the control group consumed low-fiber cereal products and dairy fat–based spreads, and limited the amount of fish meals. 

The results revealed that, when compared to the control diet, the Nordic diet resulted in differences in the function of 128 different genes and reduced the expression of genes related to inflammation within subcutaneous adipose tissue. Importantly these changes were independent of changes in body weight.

Although the clinical relevance of this is not yet clear, “it is possible that adipose tissue inflammation, via secretion of inflammatory mediators, increases the levels of these mediators in the circulation and thereby contributes to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis,” commented the study investigators. Reductions in inflammatory gene expression may help explain observed health benefits of traditional, minimally processed dietary patterns (2). 


1. Kolehmainen M, Ulven SM, Paananen J, et al. Healthy Nordic diet downregulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue in individuals with features of the metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jan;101(1):228-39

2. Akesson A, Andersen LF, Kristjánsdóttir AG, et al. Health effects associated with foods characteristic of the Nordic diet: a systematic literature review. Food Nutr Res. 2013 Oct 9;57.

Tags: Traditional Diet, Nordic Diet, Inflammation, Healthy Aging

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