Moose and caribou are well-known for being important traditional foods. 

A cow moose swims across a bay near Enodah Trout Rock Lodge. Rersearchers are examining the health benefits of eating moose meat. NNSL file photo

Now a team of academics in Newfoundland have found that moose and caribou meat contain significant levels of fatty acids that can treat a number of metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

The researchers, based at Memorial University’s Grenfell campus, found moose antlers and meat are a source of three lipids: hydroxy fatty acids, diglycerides and monoacetyldiglycerides.

The compounds show promise for use in supplements and fortified food products, said Dr. Raymond Thomas, one of the researchers involved in the study.

Moose and caribou meat are popular sources of low-fat lean meat which contains more fatty acids than domesticated animals, he said.

There are comparatively more fatty compounds found in antlers than meat, but even a very small amount of the lipids is beneficial, said Thomas.

Researchers obtained moose and caribou meat from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources. Hunters were asked to donate between two and four pounds of meat and antlers from each harvest.

Deer velvet antlers are widely used in traditional Korean medicine and are “renowned” for improving cardiac function, relieving fatigue, improving immunity and treating nervous breakdown, the study states.

“After monoacetyldiglycerides were isolated from deer antlers as the source of positive health benefits, the Grenfell campus researchers decided to investigate whether moose and caribou, close relatives of deer, also contained the compound,” it states.

The tip of the antler contains the highest levels of the beneficial compounds. Caribou meat contains monoacetyldiglycerides in higher levels than moose meat.
The meat was collected from different ecological zones across Newfoundland, said Thomas.

Asked whether the study’s results can be transposed to other regions, Thomas suspects scientists would make similar findings in more westerly animal populations.
The researchers published their findings in an open access journal Molecules in the hopes that other scientists across the country will expand on their work.

“There are many possible variations,” he said. “We want other scientists to be aware that these compounds are there.”

Avery Zingel

Avery Zingel is a reporter and photographer in Yellowknife, regularly covering environment, health and territorial politics. Avery is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Political...

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