Eating the trendy Viking diet may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30%, study finds

Eating a trendy Viking-inspired diet may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30 per cent, new research suggests.

Opting for seafood, whole grains and nuts lowers people’s risk of cognitive decline, particularly when combined with an active lifestyle, a Chinese study found today.

Similarly to Mediterranean diets, the Nordic way of eating promotes home cooked meals with little sugar but uses canola oil rather than olive. 

Previous research suggests the anti-inflammatory properties of staple Mediterranean foods, such as oily fish and vegetables, prevent dementia by stopping blood vessel damage in the brain. 

Canola oil has been linked to the production of ‘good’ brown fat, which breaks down to stabilise people’s blood sugar levels. High levels are associated with Alzheimer’s.

Eating a Viking-inspired diet may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30 per cent (stock)


Nordic diets allow followers to eat:

  • Fruit and vegetables every day
  • Whole grains
  • Fish and seafood
  • Small amounts of meat
  • Organic produce
  • Seasonal foods
  • Home cooked meals

Food additives should be avoided.  

How the research was carried out 

The researchers, from Tianjin Medical University, analysed 2,223 adults aged over 65 without dementia.

The participants, who were followed for six years, completed ‘mental state examinations’.

They also filled out food questionnaires, with a list of 98 options, to determine their diets. 

The participants’ adherence to a Nordic diet, as well as their physical, mental and social activity levels, were ranked low, moderate or high. 

Healthy eating lowers the risk of dementia 

Speaking of the findings, Dr Doug Brown, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Diet and staying active – both mentally and physically – are key considerations when it comes to limiting your risk of developing dementia, but this study went a step further and found that combining both activities may reduce cognitive decline further.

‘These results support the findings of our own funded research into how what we eat can reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking. 

‘Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, but there are things we can all do now to help lower our chances of developing the condition, including healthy eating and keeping our body and mind active.’

The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. 


Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders


Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.

There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.


The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.

In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.


Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.

Source: Dementia UK 

The hybrid diet that can prevent dementia 

This comes after scientists created a hybrid diet that is proven to prevent dementia.

A combination of the Mediterranean way of eating and the so-called low-fat DASH diet maintains at-risk people’s thinking, reasoning and memories, a study found last January.

Followers of such eating habits, in a diet known as MIND, are required to consume nine foods or drinks regularly, including at least one portion of green leafy vegetables a day, berries twice a week and even a daily glass of wine, the research adds.

It also allows dieters to munch on sweets and pastries, providing they limit themselves to just four times a week, the study found.

When stroke survivors who suffered cognitive decline followed the MIND diet for up to 13 years, their risk of developing dementia significantly reduced, with researchers stressing such eating habits will also benefit the brains of healthy people.

Study author Dr Laurel Cherian, from Rush University, said: ‘The goal is to emphasise foods that will not only lower our risk of heart attacks and stroke, but make our brains as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.’