How many servings of fruits and vegetables did most Arctic peoples eat most days of the year? How much fiber is there in a seal, or a fish, or an Arctic bird? Physician Samuel Hutton, who treated Eskimos in the Canadian province of Labrador at the turn of the 20 century, wrote: “I wonder are the Eskimos unique among the nations in their disregard of vegetable foods?
By tradition, males in these tribes ate only animal foods (meat and dairy products) These unique groups of people were the subjects of intense medical investigation several decades ago, and there have been numerous scientific articles written about their diet and health.
A much more recent study conducted in remote areas of southwestern Alaska compared native people who reported eating the highest percentage of traditional animal foods to native people who reported eating the lowest percentage of traditional animal foods.
Native Alaskans following a more traditional diet were eating much more animal protein and animal fat, yet had triglyceride levels on average 25 points lower than their more Westernized neighbors.
You could not ask for two more different cultures than the Arctic “Eskimos” and the East African herdsmen: Arctic peoples studied were living in the northernmost “circumpolar” parts of Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland.
The diets of most Arctic people began changing in the late 1800’s as trade routes began providing access to European foods including sugar, flour, and dairy products, but prior to that their diet consisted primarily of animal protein and fat for most of the year.