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Fish May Only Be Healthy When Cooked Right

Fish has received an immense amount of attention for its heart health benefits and people have been encouraged to increase their consumption. However, a recent study by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta shows that eating fried fish may significantly increase stroke risk.

The study was published in the December 2010 issue of the journal Neurology.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on over 20,000 people who were part of a large government study called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS).

56% of the study participants were from the “Stroke belt,” a region which has a steep rate of death from stroke. It is comprised of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The researchers performed phone interviews and an in-house physical exam to determine diet and physical fitness. They found that participants in the stroke belt were 32% more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish a week. In terms of eating non-fried fish, residents in the stroke belt ate slightly less on average per week than people in the rest of the country.

This high rate of fried fish consumption may be linked to the high rate of death due to stroke in the region but further studies will be necessary to determine a direct link.

Although this study did not look into the mechanisms behind the findings, the researchers noted that the increased fat content from frying oil may contribute to the stroke risk. Frying fish may also reduce levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which among other things, have been shown to slash the risk of cardiovascular complications.

This study shows that it may be best to stick with non-fried fish in order to get the full health benefits offered by fish, including improving cognitive function and mood and reducing the risk of age related vision loss.

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