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Heart Health

Should you eat like an Inuit?

written by Vin Kutty

comments 3 comments

fish oil benefits

I wouldn’t!

Fermented seal flippers. Enough said.

Inuits’ ice-covered homelands don’t offer a fun, varied diet.  Traditionally, they had a subsistence way of life.  Whatever they caught on their hunts was eaten.

They typically eat seal, walrus, fish and an occasional whale or reindeer.  They use seal oil for dipping sauce.  They eat something called Stink fish, which is fish, wrapped in seal and allowed to ferment underground.

Eskimo ice cream?  Blubber mixed with summer berries.

I think you get the idea.

These days, for the Inuit of Canada and Yupiks of Alaska, modern western foods are ever easier to get.  Cheap carbs can be had from pizza, soda and french fries.  Their diet had not changed for thousands of years, but in the last 30 years, it has changed and so have the rates of obesity, diabetes and poor heart health.

It wasn’t always this way.  They ate mostly fat and protein with hardly any fruits and vegetables for millennia.  You could say they were the first Atkins low-carb dieters.

Most importantly, the fat they ate was not the bad Omega-6 kind.  Most of the fat was healthy Omega-3 from fish and other wild animals that ate fish.  Wild animals have very different fats than farm-raised or mass-produced animals.

It’s hard to argue that it’s easier to drive to a grocery store than have to hunt for your food! As the old ‘Eskimo’ way of life disappears, new health problems are cropping up. Grain-fed farm animals cooped up in pens have a lot of bad Omega-6 fats.

Back in the 1970s, a Danish scientist named Jorn Dyerberg went to Greenland because he know that only 5% of the local Inuit die from poor heart health.  But 40% of the rest of us die from poor heart health. To him, it made no sense.

After all, how can a group of people who eat so much blubber not get heart attacks?

When Jorn and his colleagues took blood samples of 130 Inuits, everything seemed normal but for one thing.  Their blood was very high in Omega-3 EPA and DHA.

That was the beginning of the gold rush in Omega-3 research.

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