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Fried fish is tasty, but possibly fatal for Southerners

Fried fish and french fries

Researchers have correlated higher consumption of fried fish with higher rates of fatal strokes in the "stroke belt" states of the South. Photo credit:

A study published in the journal Neurology points to a higher rate of fatal strokes in eight southern states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Scientists are labeling these states, where coincidentally fried fish is eaten more often than non-fried fish, the “stroke belt.”

The news gets worse if you live in the coastal plain region of North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia, which the scientists are now calling the “stroke buckle” for the even higher incidence of fatal strokes in that three-state region.

Additionally, the survey found African-Americans were more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish per week than were their white neighbors.

Lead researcher Fadi Nahab, MD, of Emory University, told WebMD that “[t]hese differences in fish consumption may be one of the potential reasons for the racial and geographic differences in stroke incidence and mortality.”Non-fried fish contain high levels of heart-healthy antioxidants, but frying destroys those antioxidants, and adds heart-harmful fat and cholesterol to the diet.

Fried fish is an ingrained part of the culture in the stroke belt, and one of many cultural factors contributing to obesity in the region. How can we make healthy foods more culturally acceptable? If it’s too late to convince adults to stop frying fish, should we focus on keeping fried foods out of the schools? How can we teach people to bake food instead of fry it, especially when in a rush or when too tired to cook people will eat out and get fried foods?