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Danish Foods Behind Noma Restaurant Success Cause Weight Loss, Study Finds

The Danish foods that helped Copenhagen-based Noma edge out southern European rivals to become the world’s best restaurant for a second year may also cause weight loss, preliminary results of a study suggest.

Overweight participants who followed the “New Nordic Diet,” developed in part by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer, lost 3.1 kilos (6.8 pounds), on average, after 12 weeks, according to the University of Copenhagen, which conducted the 26-week study. That compares with a 1.6 kilo-loss for participants who ate typical meals of meat, potatoes, cereal and spaghetti.

“We hope the Nordic diet can be a legitimate alternative to the Mediterranean diet,” Thomas Larsen, an associate professor of nutrition and the study’s head, said in an interview. “The ingredients are the same as Noma, the fact that it tastes good is the same, but the cost is not the same.”

Noma was named the world’s best restaurant for a second time in April in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in London. The Danish restaurant, which charges 2,540 kroner ($478) for its 12-course menu with wine, beat two Spanish eateries, El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, for the top spot.

Noma is short for ‘nordisk mad’ - Danish for Nordic food - and its founders have helped inspire a return to the region’s own produce and meats, including birch juice, root vegetables, cloudberries and reindeer, according to Meyer’s website.

Legumes, Cabbage

One of the goals is to curb rising obesity rates. The percentage of young, obese Danish males has climbed 70-fold since 1950, to more than 7 percent, according to the university. Obesity may lead diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the individual ingredients that work but we can see that they lose more weight,” said Larsen, who presented the study at the European Nutrition Conference, held last week in Madrid. “The biggest differences are, the new Nordic diet includes more fish, nuts, legumes, fruits, berries, raw vegetables like cabbage, game meat, and Nordic starches such as oats.”

Researchers are still analyzing the data collected during the study, which 181 people completed, Larsen said in yesterday’s interview. Participants were randomly selected either to get ingredients that adhered to the Nordic diet or to make typical Danish meals. They also received regular counseling.

“We know from many sources that the Mediterranean diet tastes good and has many health benefits,” he said. “We thought, why can’t we develop a new set of nutritional guidelines that are based on raw Nordic products that tastes just as good and have beneficial health effects.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net or Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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