Before adopting modern corn-and-grain-based western processed diets, circumpolar people had a high fat and protein subsistence diet and exhibited a low incidence of obesity, diabetes and
cardiovascular disease. Some health benefits are attributable to a subsistence diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Pollution, both global and local, is a threat to wild foods, as it introduces contaminants into the food system. Northern indigenous people and their sled dogs are exposed to a variety of contaminants, including mercury, that accumulate in the fish and game that they consume. The sled dogs in Alaskan villages are maintained on the same subsistence foods as their human counterparts, primarily salmon, and therefore they can be used as a food systems model for researching the impact of changes in dietary components. In this study, the antioxidant status and mercury levels were measured for village sled dogs along the Yukon River. A reference kennel, maintained on a nutritionally balanced commercial diet, was also measured for comparison. Total antioxidant status was inversely correlated with the
external stressor mercury.