Fried fish and vascular disease

Fried fish appears to be related to an increased risk of stroke. While fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of developing vascular disease, fried fish may have the opposite effect.

While omega-3 fatty acids from fish have favourable effects on platelet aggregation, blood pressure, lipid profile and endothelial function as well as ischaemic stroke risk, unhealthy preparation of fish by frying, especially in commonly used shortening or hydrogenated oils may negate these benefits (Nahab, Le, Judd, Frankel, Ard, Newby & Howard, 2011).

In a new study, researchers from the University of Alabama, Emory University and Boston University analysed 21,675 participants over 45 years old, half of whom lived in what is termed the stroke belt (Nahab, Le, Judd, Frankel, Ard, Newby & Howard, 2011). The stroke belt states include South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. The result of this study found that only 23 percent of the participants consumed two or more servings of non-fried fish per week. Moreover, it was reported that African American participants were 3.5 times as likely to consume two or more servings of fried fish per week compared to other participants living in the United States.

Overall, the participants in this study were reported as consuming twice as much fried fish compared to the average American. This being so, it is suggested that the consumption of fried fish could be the cause of increased stroke risk within these areas. However, this may not be the sole reason, as this population also eats more conventional butter, bacon and eggs. Nevertheless, the question remains as to whether the fish, butter, bacon and eggs result in the foregoing stroke risk or if the type of oils used to prepare these foodstuffs are the main contributing factor.

Nahab, F., Le, A., Judd, S., Frankel, M.R., Ard, J., Newby, P.K. & Howard, V.J. 2011. Racial and geographic differences in fish consumption: the REGARDS study. Neurology, 76, 2, 154-158.

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