An insight to the Nordic Diet

Delegates from the North and West of Ireland attended a Knowledge Exchange visit in Kuopio Finland.  The delegation which included, Brendan Mooney (NWRA), Patrick Devine (NWRA) Suzanne Seery (Dietitian, Croí, Heart and Stroke Charity), Lisa Corbett (Senior Community Nutritionist at the HSE) and Elaine Donohue (manager at the Bia Innovator Campus in Athenry) travelled as part of an Interreg Europe project called EUREGA.

Suzanne Seery, Dietitian from Croí (Heart and Stroke Charity) presenting to the EUREGA project partners and stakeholders.

Presentations from nutrition researchers at the University of Eastern Finland which highlighted the similarities between the Nordic and Mediterranean dietary patterns, were highly informative from an Irish perspective; Suzanne Seery commented “The Mediterranean diet has a lot of research behind it to support the prevention of cardiovascular disease.  Both the Nordic and Mediterranean diet include a focus on plant based minimally processed foods, wholegrain cereals such as oats, barley and rye, fruit and vegetables, regular consumption of oily fish and low intakes of processed red meat”

Lisa Corbett (Senior Community Nutritionist at the HSE) presenting the Health Ireland framework to EUREGA project partners and stakeholders

Elaine Donohue, manager of the Bia Innovator Campus in Athenry which is due to start construction in 2020, also got the opportunity to visit the Future Food Lab of Savonia University of Applied Sciences. Speaking about the visit she stated, “it was great to learn about emerging technologies to assist companies in developing food products and carrying out consumer research”.

The attendees also got to learn about the Finnish ‘Free School Meals’ programme which entitles all children in nursery, primary and secondary schools a free and healthy meal.  Lisa CorbettSenior Community Nutritionistfrom the HSE who works on the Healthy Ireland strategy commented “it was very interested to see first hand how the children are benefiting from healthy school meals programme which Finnish people believe is a significant factor in the children’s health and wellbeing and their ability to learn and develop”.

The visit, which was funded through the Interreg Europe EUREGA project and was a unique opportunity to learn about the Finnish dietary guidelines and the Nordic dietary pattern and the stakeholders aim to use the knowledge gained to improve policies in Ireland.