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Adherence to a healthy Nordic food index and risk of myocardial infarction in middle-aged Danes: the diet, cancer and health cohort study



For decades, the Mediterranean diet has been in focus regarding healthy eating as it has been associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases. Less interest has been given to health benefits of other regional diets. The aim of the present study was to assess whether adherence to a healthy Nordic food index was associated with lower risk of myocardial infarction (MI) among middle-aged Danes.


Data were obtained from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort study of 57 053 men and women aged 50−64 years recruited between 1993 and 1997. The healthy Nordic food index comprised healthy Nordic food items selected a priori (fish, cabbage, rye bread, oatmeal, apple and pears and root vegetables). Information on incident MI was ascertained through linkage with national registries. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated from sex-specific Cox proportional hazard models.


In total, 1669 men and 653 women developed MI during follow-up (13.6 median years). In adjusted models, those with an index score of 5−6 points (highest scores) had significantly lower MI risk (men: HR=0.77, 95% CI=0.62, 0.97; women: HR=0.55, 95% CI=0.37, 0.82) relative to those scoring 0 points in the index (lowest score). A significantly lower MI risk was found per 1-point increment in the index in both men (HR=0.95, 95% CI=0.92, 0.99) and women (HR=0.93, 95% CI=0.88, 0.98).


A healthy Nordic diet is associated with lower MI risk among middle-aged Danes, suggesting that Nordic diets should be considered in recommendations for dietary changes in the promotion of coronary health.

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The study was funded by The Danish Cancer Society Research Centre and NordForsk (Centre of Excellence Programme HELGA). None of them has had any impact on study design, data collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data.

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Correspondence to A Olsen.

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Gunge, V., Andersen, I., Kyrø, C. et al. Adherence to a healthy Nordic food index and risk of myocardial infarction in middle-aged Danes: the diet, cancer and health cohort study. Eur J Clin Nutr 71, 652–658 (2017).

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