New Nordic dietary guidelines emphasise whole diet quality

A slight increase in fat consumption recommendations is not a licence to eat more butter, says a Euromonitor analyst

New Nordic dietary recommendations focus on whole diet quality, rather than individual nutrients, with some key changes that could make a difference to how foods qualify for healthy choice logos.

The Nordic recommendations are revised every eight years to take account of new evidence in nutrition science. In most cases, the evidence did not justify revision of the earlier recommendations, but the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations emphasised the quality as well as the quality of macronutrients (i.e. fat, carbohydrate and protein).

According to a Euromonitor International research analyst, the new recommendations largely reflect current trends in Nordic eating.

“Increasing emphasis has been put on the whole diet instead of focusing on guidelines for individual nutrients,” she said.

The recommended daily intake for total fat increased to 25% to 40% of daily energy, from 25-35% in the previous recommendations. Meanwhile, the total amount of energy from carbohydrates has been reduced, to 45-60% of energy, compared to 50-60% in the 2004 edition.

“This matches the low carb boom in the Nordic countries over the past few years,” the analyst said.

However, the recommendations are not a ticket to eat swathes of butter on white bread, she added.

“Butter continues to be recommended to be replaced by vegetable oils…According to the Euromonitor International data, this recommendation is definitely needed since the consumption of butter has increased by 23% in volume terms, mainly due to the low carb and natural food trend over the last five years in Nordic countries.”

The recommended intake for vitamin D has also been increased, from 7.5 micrograms to 10 micrograms per day for everyone over the age  of two, and to 20 micrograms per day for the elderly.

The guidelines also recommend an increase in selenium intake, now at 50-60 micrograms a day for females and males respectively, compared to 40-50 micrograms in the earlier guidelines. 

The new recommendations are the work of more than 100 experts led by a working group under the Nordic Council of Ministers. They can be downloaded in full here.

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