As the Mediterranean diet remains a cornerstone of healthy eating, the emergence of the Atlantic diet has sparked intriguing discussions about the potential benefits of a dietary transition. Renowned registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Arrey, and CJAD radio host, Ken Connors, come together to explore this thought-provoking topic. With its emphasis on seafood, fresh produce, and culinary traditions from Atlantic coastal regions, the Atlantic diet offers a novel approach to nutrition.

In this interview, we delve into the nuances of both dietary patterns, examining their respective merits, scientific foundations, and practical implications. Join us as we navigate the evolving landscape of dietary recommendations and ponder whether it’s time to consider switching from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic diet.


This podcast was aired on the Weekends with Ken Connors show on CJAD.


Ken Connors: Kim this week when I looked at my news feed, I saw about 10 different stories about the Atlantic diet and how healthy it is.  I thought that this morning we could talk about this new diet.  Can you tell me what it is and if it has any health benefits?

Kim Arrey:  Ken I noticed that as well.  I saw a lot of news stories about the Atlantic diet that were based on a study that was published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The Atlantic diet is what we call the traditional diet from Portugal and the northwestern part of Spain.   There were 126 families in the group that was asked to follow the Atlantic diet and 124 families in the control group, who followed their usual lifestyle.  The Atlantic diet group was asked to eat a diet that was made up of unprocessed, seasonal foods including vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and olive oil as well. They choose a high amount of fish and seafood, some starchy foods, dried fruits, milk, cheese, meat and moderate wine intake.  The participants in the intervention group received 3 dietary counselling a cooking class, recipes, regular food baskets that contained foods that would make up the Atlantic diet.  The results showed that the participants in the intervention group reduced their levels of abdominal obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and their incidence of metabolic syndrome.  In the control group, these same measurements were taken and they either stayed the same or got worse.  The authors of the study concluded that the Atlantic diet lowers your risk of developing heart disease.

Ken Connors: Kim that is interesting.  What are the differences between the 2 diets?

Kim Arrey:  Ken there are a few differences.  One is that the fish and seafood that are consumed vary slightly from those consumed in the Mediterranean.  For example, there is more cod, red meat especially pork, and potatoes in the Atlantic diet.  But there is the same emphasis on choosing foods that are not ultra-processed and including lots of plant foods: whole grains, veggies, fruits, and pulses and legumes.  There are a lot of similarities.  And there are similarities in how people in the Mediterranean and the regions of Spain and Portugal eat: meals are enjoyed with family and friends, and the social aspects of eating are emphasised and have been shown to improve the quality of life.

This is probably good news for most of us! Another study, published at the end of last year assessed this diet but in a more varied European population.  The study, published in the European Journal  of Preventive Cardiology showed that this diet was palatable for people in the UK, Poland, Czechia, as well as people in Spain.  And in this study, the was a lower rate of all cause mortality in the people who followed the Atlantic eating pattern more closely than in those who did not follow it.

Ken Connors: Kim should people ditch the Mediterranean diet?

Kim Arrey: Ken right now there is a growing awareness among nutrition scientists that it is not necessarily palatable, affordable or ecologically sound to expect the whole world to follow the Mediterranean diet.  Nutrition scientists are starting to design studies that evaluate the traditional diets of various areas of the world to see if they have any health benefits.  That is why scientists are studying the Nordic diet and the Atlantic diet.

Ken Connors: Can you remind me what the Nordic diet is?

Kim Arrey:  Sure Ken.  The Nordic diet is the traditional diet found in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, and Iceland.   It includes foods like berries, cabbage, apples, pears, root vegetables, oats, rye, and fermented milk products.  It also includes lots of fish and seafood, as well as legumes and pulses and canola oil instead of olive oil.

Ken Connors: Kim it sounds like these eating patterns all have a lot in common.  Is that why they all have health benefits?

Kim Arrey:  Yes Ken.  These eating patterns supply the body with the nutrients and the fuel that it needs.  They all provide people with the sense of community and well-being that occurs when young and old eat together.  The take-home message is to not worry so much about if you eat eggplant or Brussels sprouts but to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes as well as protein from fish, chicken, red meat, and fermented dairy and veggies while at the same time reducing the amount of sweets and ultra-processed foods in the diet.