Atherosclerosis in 16th-Century Greenlandic Inuit Mummies | Cardiology | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network
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    1 Comment for this article
    Omnivore diet explains findings
    Ulrich Bartels, State Exam med Göttingen, FRCOG | Mayo University Hospital
    This study confirms that a diet rich in animal protein and fat has detrimental effect on cardiovascular disease. The study confirms that their diet was composed of many mammals, birds and fish. Unfortunately the omega 3 contained in fish is of EPA and DHA whereas the ALA from plant sources appears to be the protective component (as far as cardio-vascular health is concerned). This would explain their arteriosclerosis.

    Research Letter
    December 27, 2019

    Atherosclerosis in 16th-Century Greenlandic Inuit Mummies

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Ascension Healthcare, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • 2Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
    • 3Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 4St Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
    • 5Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
    • 6University of Southern California, Los Angeles
    • 7Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute, Fountain Valley, California
    JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(12):e1918270. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.18270

    Atherosclerosis is often thought of as unique to modern Homo sapiens, the product of our contemporary diet, lifestyle, and environment superimposed on primordial susceptibility. However, the HORUS Study Group has found that atherosclerosis existed at least as far back as 4000 bce.1 Arterial calcification has been found in 34 of 137 mummified remains from 3 continents across wide variations in lifestyle and heritage, including in hunter-gatherer populations.1,2 None of these individuals consumed a primarily marine-based diet rich in ω-3 fatty acids. Fifty years ago, Danish researchers3 hypothesized that high intake of marine animals rich in fish oil containing ω-3 fatty acids protected native Greenlandic Inuit peoples from atherosclerosis. Davis and colleagues4 found fish oil reduced the atherosclerosis induced in rhesus monkeys exposed to a high-cholesterol atherogenic diet. In 2019,5 interest persists in the actions of ω-3 fatty acids in their natural and highly purified forms. To better understand the early history of human atherosclerosis, we performed a case series study of Inuit hunter-gatherer people living 500 years ago who consumed a marine-based diet.