In the winter of 1976 an examination of the composition of Eskimo food was carried out in north western Greenland. Duplicate specimens of diets collected from 50 adults, equal numbers of males and females, were analyzed for water, ash, protein, fat, individual fatty acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrate.

The results are compared with those of typical Danish diets. Seal and the fish are predominant Eskimo food. Marked differences between Eskimo and Danish food were found. The Eskimo diets were richer in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the ratio to saturated fatty acids was 0.84 as compared with 0.24 in Danes.

The polyunsaturated fatty acids were predominantly of the linolenic class (n-3) in Eskimos and the linoleic class (n-6) in Danes. Monoenes other than palmitoleic and oleic acids were high in Eskimo diets, but negligible in Danish. The results are related to previous examinations of the plasma lipids in Eskimos.

The rarity of ischemic heart disease in Greenland Eskimos may partly be explained by the antithrombotic effect of the long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid prevalent in diets rich in marine oils.