Living in the stroke belt? You may prefer your fish fried

Eating more fish is a good thing, say health experts--unless that fish happens to be fried. A study shows that those who live in the stroke belt of the U.S. may consume more fried fish than those in other parts of the country.

States included in the stroke belt, where stroke deaths are higher than in other parts of the country, are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. In that region is the stroke buckle--the coastal plains regions of North and South Carolina and Georgia--where the highest stroke death rates are concentrated.

The study authors looked at data on 21,675 people who were part of the on-going “Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke” study. Only 23% of participants ate two or more servings of non-fried fish a week, recommended by the American Heart Assn. Those in the stroke buckle were 17% less apt to meet the heart association guidelines than people in the rest of the country.


Men and women who lived in the stroke belt were 30% more likely to consume two servings or more per week of fried fish than those in other parts of the U.S. African Americans ate more fish than whites, but most of the fish they ate was fried.

The researchers note that fish (and especially fatty fish) contains omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. But when fish is fried, those fatty acids are likely lost.

“One of the next steps in this research,” said study co-author Suzanne Judd in a news release, “will be to determine if people who eat higher amounts of non-fried fish have less risk of stroke than people who don’t eat a lot of fish or eat more fried fish.”

The study was published online in the journal Neurology.