Less meat, more plant-based: Here are the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023
20th of June 2023
The sixth edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations published today is the biggest ever update in the report’s 40-year history.
It is now also the most comprehensive scientific basis in the world for how we should eat well for the benefit of the planet and our health.
The recommendations are based on the best available science on food consumption, health, and the environment.
“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,” says Rune Blomhoff, project leader for the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023 and professor at the University of Oslo.
Mainly plant-based diet recommended
The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023 examine the health impact of 36 nutrients and 15 food groups.
They advocate a mainly plant-based diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, berries, legumes, potatoes, and whole grains.
They also recommend a large intake of fish and nuts, a moderate intake of low-fat milk products, a limited amount of red and white meat, and a minimal intake of processed meat, alcohol, and processed foods with high levels of fat, salt, and sugar.
Pioneering Nordic efforts welcomed globally
The launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations on 20 June is an event of international interest.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization WHO, believes that the new edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations demonstrates “a powerful link between healthy people and a healthy planet”.
“I congratulate the Nordic Council of Ministers on an impressive report and the inclusive process of public consultations. The overall recommendation to switch to a plant-based diet is in line with current scientific literature,” says Ghebreyesus.
“Helping people in the Nordics to eat in a way that’s healthy and environmentally friendly”
The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations are published by the Nordic Council of Ministers and are the result of a unique Nordic collaboration. The report provides a shared evidence-based foundation which assists the countries in developing dietary guidelines for their citizens.
“The report we’re receiving today will help people in the Nordics to eat in a way that’s healthy and environmentally friendly, since it steers national dietary guidelines and thereby governs the menus served in our schools, hospitals, and other public-sector kitchens,” says Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which is publishing the report.
Report already the subject of debate
The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations are the result of four years of hard work by several hundred Nordic and international researchers.
The methodology is in line with global standards and the publication has been preceded by a transparent process whereby every background article is subject to an eight-week public consultation.
The report has already been widely debated in several Nordic countries before its publication, among other things because of the expectation that it would recommend a reduction in the consumption of red meat, which is in line with other global research reports on the environment and climate.
It is the countries themselves that ultimately choose how to apply the recommendations when drafting their national dietary guidelines,
They have the option to take into account national priorities and local contexts.
Facts/Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023, NNR2023
- The recommended intake or reference values have changed significantly compared to the previous edition for nine nutrients: vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, thiamin, calcium, zinc, and selenium.
- Legumes: Greater consumption is recommended, mainly for environmental reasons.
- Alcohol: Since no safe limit for alcohol consumption can be provided, the recommendation in NNR2023 is that everyone should avoid drinking alcohol. If consuming alcohol, the intake should be low. This recommendation also applies to women who are breastfeeding. A more restrictive recommendation (total abstinence) applies to children, adolescents, and pregnant women.
- Grains: An increased intake of whole grains is supported by the positive impact on both health and the environment. It is recommended to eat at least 90 grams of whole grains per day.
- Vegetables, fruit, and berries: It is recommended to eat between 500 and 800 grams or more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and berries per day.
- Fish: An increased intake of fish from sustainably managed stocks is supported by the positive impact on both health and the environment. It is recommended to consume between 300 and 450 grams per week, of which at least 200 grams per week should be fatty fish.
- Red meat: For health reasons, it is recommended not to consume more than 350 grams of red meat per week. The quantity of processed red meat should be as low as possible. For environmental reasons, the consumption of red meat should be significantly lower than 350 grams.
- The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations form the scientific basis for national nutritional guidelines and food-based dietary advice in the Nordic and Baltic countries.
- International co-operation between the countries has resulted in five previous editions of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, the first of which was published in 1980.
- The last version, from 2012, has been downloaded more than 300,000 times by decision-makers, researchers, and students worldwide.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Secretary General of the WHO, spoke at the launch of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organization, WHO, speaks at the launch of the Nordic Nutritions Recommendations 2023.