Food specimens have been collected, by means of the double-portion technique, from Greenland Eskimo hunters and their wives, in all seven persons, on seven consecutive days. Their food was found to contain more protein and less carbohydrates than average Danish food and an almost equal amount of fat. Compared with Danish food, the fatty acid pattern of the consumed lipids--essentially of mammalian marine origin--showed a higher content of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially C20:5) and lower contents of linoleic and linolenic acids.

However, the sum of the polyunsaturated fatty acids was smaller than in Danish food. Using Keys' formula, describing the serum cholesterol level as a function of the nutritional fatty acids, the essentially lower serum choelsterol level found in Greenland Eskimos was not explained by our findings. It is suggested instead to be a special metabolic effect of the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids from marine mammals. There might be a similar effect on the plasma triglyceride and very low density lipoprotein concentrations, explaining the much lower plasma concentrations of these components in Eskimos than in Western populations.

Our findings might have an essential bearing on the difference in morbidity from coronary atherosclerotic disease between these populations.