The superfoods of the Arctic

If you've been reading my newsletter for a long time, you know that I travel often (for both business and fun), and I love to explore the various foods of each culture that I visit.  If you remember, I described a couple months ago about the super nutritional metabolic benefits (and deliciousness) of the Thailand cuisine that I ate for 3 weeks a few months back.

Well, this week, my adventures have brought me to the Arctic circle in northern Sweden for a fun wilderness trip full of winter sports, staying at the famous ice hotel, ice fishing, and dog-sledding to a remote wood-fire heated cabin in the frozen arctic where we enjoyed wonderful meals of traditional Swedish cuisine with some great friends.

As usual, the traditional foods of almost every culture I visit around the world, although quite different from each other, are easily 10x healthier than the average foods eaten in America.  To give you an idea, here's a little taste of the cuisine we are enjoying here in Sweden...

1.  Lingonberries -- Almost every meal seems to come with some form of Lingonberries here ... these little nutrition powerhouses can be described like a mixture of blueberries and cranberries -- they're about the size of wild blueberries, they're reddish instead of blue, and they have a taste that seems halfway between blueberries and cranberries.  There's no doubt that the super high antioxidant content of Lingonberries protects the Swedish that eat these as part of their traditional diet from many of the typical degenerative diseases we're seeing in America.

2.   Reindeer meat -- We've enjoyed several incredible dinners of very tender and tasty reindeer meat.  This is another traditional food of the arctic, and is loaded with nutrition benefits that make the typical corn-fed feedlot beef served in American restaurants an absolute joke in terms of nutrition.

We've had the reindeer here in Sweden served as a main course seared rare with a delicious mushroom sauce, we've had it served as a carpaccio style appetizer in raw form (soooo delicious!), and we've also had it in a stew form which was equally enjoyable.

Reindeer is a very lean meat, is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, and contains good amounts of the healthy fat called CLA, which helps to build muscle and lose fat, and is also shown to decrease cancer risk.

3.  Artic Char --  This seems to be one of the most popular types of fish served here in Sweden, and we've had least 3 or 4 meals of Artic Char in the past week.  Char is a cold water fish and is loaded with healthy omega-3 fats just like wild salmon and trout.

Char also has a very mild taste so is good for people that don't like a strong "fishy" taste.

It's also interesting to note that Arctic Char is a good source of vitamin D, something that would be extremely important for those living in the arctic due to the lack of vitamin D producing UVB rays from the low sun angle here in the Arctic.  It's almost like nature's perfect gift to those living in extreme northern latitudes that some of the native foods here naturally contain vitamin D since you can't produce vitamin D from the sun most months of the year in the Arctic.

4.  Moose meat -- Everything I described with the reindeer meat basically applies with moose meat as well.  We've had a couple very delicious and nutritious dinners here in Sweden made from moose meat.  

5.  Root vegetables  --  Carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, and other root vegetables have been frequent additions to meals here as well.  These add good nutrition full of vitamins and minerals to meals during the long winters when many fresh vegetables would not be available without modern day long distance importing.

These are an important part of the traditional cuisine here to round out the nutrition.

6.  Other traditional foods -- Two other notable common foods here also seem to be cultured dairy (such as various yogurts and kefirs) as well as pickled herring or other pickled fish.

The cultured dairy foods here are incredible sources of gut-healing and immune-boosting probiotics, and due to the friendly bacteria in them, are the most digestible forms of dairy, and best tolerated.

The pickled herring was a very curious thing for me to try, and although others in our group did not like the taste, I actually enjoyed the herring.  And herring is a great source of omega-3 fats as well as vitamin D. 

Overall, although junk food is still readily available in the cities here, those that rely on the traditional diet of the Arctic culture here will enjoy robust health benefits from these foods.

Although these specific foods may be hard to find in many countries, there's something to be learned from this style of nutritious traditional diet... find game meats, grass-fed meats, and wild fish as often as you can and in as much variety as you can, and utilize the benefits of wild berries and root vegetables as often as you can as well!

More reading...

How does temperature affect your fat loss efforts?

This fruit increased fat loss after 12 weeks

Is "paleo" the best way to eat, or not?

PS -- if you liked today's article, please fwd this email on to any of your friends, family, or co-workers that would enjoy it.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer