For Stroke Prevention, Eat Fish Baked or Broiled

Fish is great for your health, but not fried fish or fish sandwiches, points out research.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed 4,775 people aged 65 and older for 12 years and found that those who ate one to five servings weekly of tuna or other types of baked or broiled fish were 27% less likely to suffer a stroke than those eating these types of fish less than once a month. Five servings weekly reduced stroke risk by 30%.

Stroke Prevention: Fried vs Baked Fish

A key take-away for many guests at the Pritikin Center is that they can make big changes in their health with only small tweaks to their diet. Food preparation or one ingredient can add considerable salt and fat to your diet. Simply substituting baked fish for fried fish could help prevent a stroke.

By contrast, people who ate a lot of fried fish or fish sandwiches (more than once per week) had a 44% higher risk of stroke compared with people eating the fare less than once per month.

Stroke Prevention

What makes baked and broiled fish so healthful – and fried fish and fish sandwiches so troublesome? One key reason is that fried varieties can contain quite a lot of saturated fat, a well-known artery-clogger. A McDonalds Filet O’ Fish Sandwich, for example, has even more saturated fat than the restaurant’s regular hamburger.

For both your brain and your heart, concluded the researchers, forgo fried fish and fish sandwiches. Instead, order broiled, grilled, or baked varieties that are rich in omega 3 fats. Numerous studies have found that omega 3 fatty acids, found in abundance in many types of seafood, make the blood less “sticky,” and, as a result, less likely to form clots, which could lead to both heart attacks and strokes.

There is also growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids lower blood triglyceride levels, enhance the immune system, decrease inflammation, and play a role in maintaining good blood pressure – all factors that can decrease stroke and heart attack risk.

Seafood varieties that are high to moderately high in omega 3s include herring, salmon, sardines, trout (farmed), mackerel, and tuna. Plant sources that are good sources of omega 3s are walnuts, flaxseed, legumes (black beans, pinto beans, lentils, etc), and tofu.

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  • * Archives of Internal Medicine, 2005; 165: 200.

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