Monday, January 3, 2011

Stay away from the fried fish!

I was browsing the New York Times this morning and I came across an interesting piece in the Health section. The article was about how fried fish is seen as a culprit in the "stroke belt" phenomenon.

I had never heard the term "stroke belt," but apparently, you are more likely to have a stroke if you live in one of these eight Southern southern states: North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. These states have a higher rate of cardiovascular illness than the rest of the United States.

Why? Well, scientists have analyzed the diets of people living in these states and compared them with the diets of people nationwide. What they found suggested that people in the South eat the roughly the same amount of fish as the rest of the country. However, they are 32% more likely to eat that fish fried.

As controversial as this finding may be (certainly there are other culprits than fried fish for the "geographic and racial differences in stroke rate"), I can certainly see how eating fried fish might not be the best for your health. When you deep fry fish, all the naturally-occurring omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of stroke are replaced with the cooking oil.

The American Heart Association recommends at least two fish meals per week. But, deep frying the fish defeats the purpose. You are destroying the nutritional value of the fish.

Is there a lesson here? Yes. Be conscientious of what you eat. Take care of yourself. Eat good, whole foods that you enjoy and that benefit your body. And while a little indulgence in your favorite foods, be they fried catfish or in my case bean and cheese tacos, remember that it all comes down to diet. You are what you eat.

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