Feature

Health scare of the week: Fried fish and strokes

A study at Emory University found that residents who live in the stroke-belt are more likely than citizens elsewhere to eat two or more servings of fried fish a week.

Fried fish may be a primary cause of the high death rates from stroke among residents of America’s “stroke belt,” which runs from Arkansas to North Carolina. A study at Emory University in Atlanta found that stroke-belt residents are 30 percent more likely than citizens elsewhere to eat two or more servings of fried fish a week, and less likely to eat non-fried fish. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week, but urges it be baked or grilled, not fried. Frying introduces fats that interfere with omega-3s and can cause both heart disease and strokes.

The Emory study, which examined the eating habits of 21,000 people around the country, found that stroke-belt residents were less likely to follow these recommendations. And African-Americans, who face a higher stroke risk regardless of location, were more than 3.5 times more likely than whites to eat two or more servings of fried fish a week. The study is “well done,” stroke neurologist Daniel Labovitz, who was not a part of the research team, tells USA Today. But he says further study is needed to tease out whether the cooking method is really to blame. “In other words, is fried fish a problem, or is it another red herring?’’

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