Send to

Choose Destination
Arctic Med Res. 1996;55 Suppl 1:20-4.

The Inuit diet. Fatty acids and antioxidants, their role in ischemic heart disease, and exposure to organochlorines and heavy metals. An international study.

Author information

Center of Primary Health Care, Nuuk, Greenland.


Traditional food is culturally, economically and nutritionally important for the Greenlandic Inuit people. In the 1970s the preventive effect of marine fat on cardiovascular disease, thrombosis and atherosclerosis was described. The low incidence of ischemic heart disease among Greenlanders has been related to the high intake of marine food. Since 1990 routine autopsies have taken place in two towns in Greenland, Nuuk and Ilulissat. The autopsies represent 26% of the total number of deaths in these two towns. Samples have been collected from 104 autopsies. International cooperative studies have analysed specimens in relation to ischemic heart disease as a benefit related to diet, as well as the level of heavy metals and organochlorine in organs as a risk related to diet. High amounts of mono-unsaturated and Omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid were found in adipose tissue. Liver analyses of selenium have confirmed the expected high intake among Greenlanders. Reduced atherosclerotic lesions were found in the coronary arteries. Blood pressure levels calculated from renovascholopathia of hypertension indicate prevailing levels similar to those in industrialized countries. Some factors in Greenland may be protecting the coronary arteries, thereby of setting the expected effect of hypertension. The level of methyl mercury in organs is generally high. PCB concentrations found in organs of Greenlanders are higher than among other populations. Health and risk effects of the traditional foods need further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center