The plasma lipid and lipoprotein pattern has been examined in 130 Greenlandic west coast Eskimos with a life pattern, and especially with dietary habits, rather close to those of original Eskimos and essentially different from those of West Europeans.

The age groups of the persons examined were chosen so as to be comparable with the age groups in which ischaemic heart disease prevails in West Europeans.

The results of determination of plasma lipid and lipoproteins in the 130 Greenlandic west coast Eskimos, 69 women and 61 men, were compared with those of a similar examination in Denmark, including 25 female Eskimos living in Denmark.

Significantly lower concentrations of total lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, β-lipoproteins and pre-β-lipoproteins were found in Eskimos compared with Danish controls. The study on the Eskimos living in Denmark revealed plasma lipid values significantly higher than in Eskimos in Greenland and equal to those of Danish controls.

This points strongly against a genetic and towards an environmental cause of the low lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in Greenlandic Eskimos. As in other societies with low plasma lipid concentrations, coronary atherosclerosis is rare among Greenlandic Eskimos.

The Eskimos have low plasma lipid concentrations in spite of a high dietary intake of fat. This could be explained by the special composition of the Eskimo diet, with low content of saturated and high content of unsaturated fatty acids.

Besides coronary atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus is very rare among Eskimos. A correlation of this to the very low concentration of plasma triglycerides and pre-β-lipoproteins is tempting, but purely speculative.

PMID: 5052396

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