Researchers from Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia), the University of Alabama (Birmingham, Alabama), and Boston University (Boston, University) have found that omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish has “favourable effects on platelet aggregation, blood pressure, lipid profile, endothelial function, and ischemic stroke risk.” The team led by Dr. Fadi Nahab decided to look into the racial and geographical aspects of preparing and eating fish and its effects.
The researchers used the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study – a national project that used 30,239 people over the age of 45 years in the United States. The participants were considered African Americans (blacks) or Caucasian Americans (whites). They filled in a questionnaire (Block98 Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ)).
The team writes based on American Heart Association guidelines, “Adequate intake of non-fried fish was defined as consumption of ≥2 servings per week.” 21,675 participants who finally answered he questionnaire showed that 23% of participants consumed two or more servings of non-fried fish each week.
The results showed that people who consumed inadequate amounts of non-fried fish were living in the Stroke Belt or living in the Stroke Buckle. People who ate two or more servings of fried fish included African Americans living in the Stroke Belt and African Americans living in the Stroke Buckle. The Stroke Belt is considered the south-eastern United States, where deaths from strokes are much higher than in the rest of the country. The Stroke Buckle is the three U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, an area with an exceptionally high mortality rate of stroke. Blacks were 3.5 times more likely to fry their fish than were whites. And, the consumption of fried fish was 30% higher in the Stroke Belt than the rest of the country.
Authors conclude, “Differential consumption of fish may contribute to the racial and geographic disparities in stroke.”
The study is published in the journal Neurology. Dr Nahab said, “These differences in fish consumption may be one of the potential reasons for the racial and geographic differences in stroke incidence and mortality.”
By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD