More than 70 years ago, Dr Weston A. Price, a dentist from Cleveland, USA,
set off on a 10-year expedition to the most remote parts of the earth.
On his travels, he discovered tribes and villages of so called ‘primitive
Remarkably, these people were almost perfectly healthy. And yet their diets
challenged everything that was considered ‘good for you’ at the time.
Perhaps the healthiest of all were the Eskimo peoples of Alaska, even
though they regularly ate a highly fatty diet consisting mainly of fish,
seal oil, and seal and whale blubber. In fact, the Eskimos were found to be
more robust and healthier than those in the west.
But it wasn’t until the 1970’s that Dr Price’s findings were investigated
A group of clinical epidemiologists were shocked to find that, despite
their high fat intake, Greenland Eskimos had an extremely low death rate
from heart disease.
Most confusing, however, was that even though the Eskimo’s total fat intake
was of a similar level to those in the western world, ‘modern civilization’
was experiencing a high increase in heart disease.
The answer to this puzzle lay with the types of fat that were
Less than nine per cent of the Eskimos’ total fat intake was made up of
‘heart-harmful’ saturated fat, compared to the modern diet which included
more than 22 per cent.
More importantly, the Eskimo’s enormous consumption of fish and marine
blubber - predominant sources of the omega 3 essential fatty acids EPA and
DHA - accounted for why their high-fat diet could be heart healthy.
In contrast, omega 3 fatty acids are notably lacking in western diets where
the incidence of heart disease continues to rise.
But research into boosting dietary omega 3 fish oils has shown some
promising results in the improvement of heart health.
Omega 3 supplements containing DHA and EPA have been shown to help reduce
blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and reduce the hardening of
arteries and plaque build-up. It is this build-up of plaque that is largely
responsible for the development of heart disease.
Other studies have also found that of all those who took part, the people
with the highest body levels of omega 3 have up to a 44 per cent lower risk
of a heart attack than those with the lowest levels.
Experts can now say with increasing confidence that omega 3 essential fatty
acids play a prominent role in the maintenance of a healthy heart.