The steep rate of death from stroke in a swath of Southern states often referred to as America's “stroke belt” may be linked to a higher consumption of fried fish in that region, new research suggests. A study published in the journal Neurology shows people living in the stroke belt — which comprises North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana — eat more fried fish and less non-fried fish than people living in the rest of the country, and African-Americans eat more fried fish than Caucasians. “Differences in dietary fish consumption, specifically in cooking methods, may be contributing to higher rates of stroke in the stroke belt and also among African Americans,” says study author Fadi Nahab, medical director for the Stroke Program at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The research, part of a large government-funded study, Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), involved 21,675 participants from across the country; the average age was 65. Of the participants, 21% were from the “stroke buckle,” the coastal plain region of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia where stroke mortality rates are even higher than they are in the rest of the stroke belt. Another 34% were from the rest of the stroke belt and 44% were from the other states.
Participants were interviewed by phone and then given an in-home physical exam. The questionnaire asked how often they ate oysters, shellfish, tuna, fried fish and non-fried fish. The American Heart Association recommends people eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids—essential fatty acids humans get through their diet—at least twice a week, baked or grilled but not fried. Fewer than one in four overall ate two or more servings of non-fried fish a week. Stroke belt residents were 32% more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish each week than those in the rest of the country.
African-Americans were more than 3.5 times more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish each week than Caucasians, with an overall average of about one serving per week of fried fish compared with about half a serving for Caucasians. When it came to eating non-fried fish meals, stroke belt residents ate an average of 1.45 servings per week, compared with 1.63 servings eaten by people elsewhere.
“This is good stuff. It's a well-done study, but I think one thing to bear in mind is that it's not specifically a study of stroke risk. You're looking at a community and seeing how it's behaving on the whole,” says Daniel Labovitz, a stroke neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “This study can't tell you causation. It can't tell you there's a direct link between one thing and another, it just tells you they're associated,” says stroke neurologist Victor Urrutia, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
How might eating fried fish impact stroke?
It could be that frying the fish leaches out the omega-3s, says Jeremy Lanford, stroke director at Scott & White Healthcare in Roundrock, Texas. Or the increased fat calorie content from the frying oil may contribute to stroke, says author Nahab. He also notes that fish used for frying, such as cod and haddock, tend to be the types lower in healthy fats. More research is needed to tease out whether cooking methods affect stroke risk, Labovitz says. “In other words, is fried fish a problem, or is it another red herring?” he says.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Funding was provided by General Mills for coding of the food frequency questionnaire.
A new study finds that drinking orange juice, soda and other beverages high in the sugar fructose could increase the small risk that middle-age and elderly women have of developing gout. Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood. For women in the study who drank two or more servings of these beverages per day, the risk of gout was more than double that for women who drank sugary sodas and juices less than once per month. Because gout is relatively rare among women, the drinks probably contribute only moderately to a woman's chances of developing it. Still, this is the first study linking sodas and sweetened fruit juices to women's gout risk. Previous research found such a link for men.
The study will be published in the Nov. 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and is being presented today (Nov. 10) at the American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting.
Gout occurs when levels of uric acid in the blood become too high, and uric acid crystallizes around the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling and pain. Foods than can increase the levels of uric acid in the blood include organ meats (such as kidneys and livers), asparagus and mushrooms, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fructose is also known to increase blood uric acid levels, the researchers said. While gout is not common in the United States, the rate of incidences has more than doubled over a 20-year period, from 16 cases per 100,000 Americans in 1977 to 42 per 100,000 in 1996. Over this period, the researchers noted, the population also consumed increasing amounts of soda and other drinks sweetened with fructose.
The new study followed 78,906 women for 22 years, from 1984 to 2006, as part of the Nurses' Health Study. At the beginning of the study, none of the women had gout. By the end, 778 had developed it. Women who drank one serving of soda per day were 1.74 times more likely to develop gout than those who drank less than one serving per month. Those who drank two or more servings per day were 2.4 times more likely to develop gout. Drinking two or more servings of soda per day caused an additional 68 cases of gout per 100,000 women per year, compared with drinking less than one serving of soda per month, the researchers said. Drinking orange juice also increased the risk. Women who drank one serving of orange juice per day were 1.41 times more likely to develop gout, and those who drank two or more servings were 2.4 times more likely to report gout.
Lifestyle and diet
The rise in gout cases is most likely due to changes in lifestyle and diet and an increase in conditions associated with gout, such as metabolic syndrome, said study researcher Dr. Hyon K. Choi of the Boston University School of Medicine. The results held even after the researchers took into account factors that could have influenced the findings, such as age, body mass index and whether the women had gone through menopause, Choi said.
The findings suggest diets to prevent gout should reduce fructose intake, the researchers said.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Let’s look at some examples:
You eat 2 waffles for breakfast
- One serving from the Food Guide Pyramid is equal to 1 waffle.
- So that means if you ate 2 waffles, you also ate 2 servings from the grains group.
Here are some other common portions and their respective Food Guide Pyramid serving sizes:
|Common portions that people eat
||Food Guide Pyramid Serving Size
||Total servings per Food Guide Pyramid
||= 2 servings
|1 English Muffin
||½ English muffin
||= 2 servings
|1 Hamburger bun
||= 2 servings
|1 cup cooked rice
||½ cup cooked rice
||= 2 servings
|1 cups cooked pasta
||½ cup cooked pasta
||= 2 servings
In each food group, look at these different Food Guide Pyramid examples indicating 1 serving each. How do these compare with what your portions look like?
- 1 slice bread, waffle or pancake
- ½ bagel, hamburger bun, or English muffin
- ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
- 1 cup ready to eat cereal
- ¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) 100% vegetable juice
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or salad
- ½ cup cooked or canned vegetables
- 1 medium apple, orange or banana
- ½ cup fruit (canned, cooked or raw)
- ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) 100% fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots or prunes)
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
- 1 ½ ounces natural cheese (cheddar)
- Meat and Beans
- 1 tablespoons of peanut butter counts as 1 ounce
- ¼ cup nuts or 20-24 almonds
- 1 medium size egg
- 2-3 ounces of poultry, meat or fish (2-3 servings)
- ¼ cup of beans
Tips on how to visually estimate 1 serving size
|1 oz. bread or 1 slice of bread
|10 French fries
||Deck of cards
|½ cup cooked rice or pasta
|1 cup raw leafy vegetables
|½ cup vegetables
|1 medium fruit such as an apple or an orange
||Tennis ball or the size of your fist
|¾ cup juice
||6 ounce juice can (1 ½ servings)
|½ cup chopped or canned fruit
|Milk and Milk Products Group
|1 ounce cheese
||Pair of dice or the size of your thumb
|1 ½ ounces cheddar cheese
||2 (9-volt) batteries
|1 cup of milk
||8 ounce carton of milk
|8 ounces yogurt
||Baseball or tennis ball
|Meat & Beans Group
|3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry
||Deck of cards (3 servings)
|2 tablespoons of peanut butter
||Ping–pong ball (2 servings)
|½ cup cooked beans
||Baseball (2 servings)
Try these ideas to help control portions at home:
- When your child is hungry and looking for a snack take the amount of food that is equal to one serving (refer to the Nutrition Facts label) and have your child eat it off a plate instead of eating it out of the box or bag.
- Don’t be tempted to finish off leftover dinner the next day. Freeze leftovers as single servings so that you can pull it out of the freezer when you need a quick, healthy meal for your family.
- Be prepared and have emergency snacks on hand if your family is running late and needs a quick snack. Make your own snack bags for traveling by reading the Nutrition Facts label and placing a single serving size into plastic bags.
- Have your child measure out a single serving of food before sitting in front of the television or doing other activities that can distract him/her from realizing how much food is being consumed. This way your child will know exactly how much he or she is eating!
Serving sizes on food labels are sometimes different from the Food Guide Pyramid servings. For example, the serving size for beverages is measured in cups or fluid ounces. Whether it is milk, juice, or soda the nutrition facts labeling guidelines is 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces, which equals 1 serving size. However, the Food Guide Pyramid serving size for milk is 1 cup, but for juice it is ¾ cup.
So, even though the amount of 1 serving on nutrition facts labels and the Food Guide Pyramid may be slightly different it is still a great tool to help you and your child decide if you are getting enough or too much food each day. Encourage your child to get familiar with the serving sizes because smart eating is an essential part of growing and staying healthy!
Source: Nourish Interactive.
Lonely fruit and vegetables seems to be a national phenomenon. According to the USDA, fewer than 15 percent of elementary students eat the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Furthermore, average fruit and vegetable intake among 6-11 year olds is only 3.5 servings a day.
Does low fruit and vegetable intake really matter when children are young? Chronic illness such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer are usually concerns for adults. However, life-long positive eating habits (such as eating low fat foods, consuming foods with high fiber, eating less processed foods) are habit-forming when started young. Furthermore, certain diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol are starting to appear in children who are overweight. Finally, fruits and vegetables have so many naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber that are good for your health.
Are our busy lifestyles to blame? Certainly, if you have kids you are getting in the car to go somewhere (to a restaurant, to soccer practice, etc.). Packaged food such as chips or power bars are very convenient and there is something about opening up a package that seems so easy compared to slicing up that lonely piece of fruit. It really is just a mindset though. Once you start packing up the fruits and veggies in Tupperware containers you will get in the habit. Plus, fruits and veggies are low in calories and fill you up.
We are constantly bombarded with food advertisements and not necessarily for healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. In fact, children 2 to 11 years old are exposed to an average of 150 to 200 hours of commercial messages, or 20,000 commercials a year and the majority of these advertisement are for cereals, candies, or other sweets.
So, what is a parent to do? Role modeling is my motto. If you are eating your fruits and vegetables, your children will too. In 2002, researchers at Pennsylvania State University examined parental pressure (“finish your vegetables” or “do as I say”) vs. role modeling (“do as I do”) among 191 five year old girls. The results showed that a daughter's fruit and vegetable intake was positively related to their parent's reported fruit and vegetable intake.
This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools. Available in English and Spanish.
Copyright ©2009 Nourish Interactive – All Rights Reserved.
Researchers analyzed 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning broadcast television over a 28-day period in 2004. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were sampled on a rotating basis to develop a complete profile of each network. The Saturday-morning cartoon segment (from 8:00 am to 11:00 am) was included to capture food advertisements marketed primarily to children.
All 96 hours of observations were videotaped and reviewed later to identify food advertisements and specific food items being promoted. Only food items that were clearly promoted for sale during an advertisement were recorded. Each food item was then analyzed for nutritional content. Observed portion sizes were converted to the number of servings.
The article indicates that the observed food items fail to comply with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations in every food group except grains. The average observed food item contained excessive servings of sugars, fat, and meat and inadequate servings of dairy, fruit and vegetables. The situation was similar for essential nutrients, with the observed foods oversupplying eight nutrients: protein, selenium, sodium, niacin, total fat, saturated fat, thiamin and cholesterol. These same foods undersupplied 12 nutrients: iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, fiber, and vitamin D.
The authors advocate nutritional warnings for imbalanced foods similar to those mandated on direct-to-consumer drug advertisements. They recommend investigating health promotion strategies that target consumers, the food industry, public media, and regulation focusing on a three-pronged approach.
“First, the public should be informed about the nature and extent of the bias in televised food advertisements. Educational efforts should identify the specific nutrients that tend to be oversupplied and undersupplied in advertised foods and should specify the single food items that surpass an entire day's worth of sugar and fat servings. Second, educational efforts should also provide consumers with skills for distinguishing balanced food selections from imbalanced food selections. For example, interactive websites could be developed that test a participant's ability to identify imbalanced food selections from a list of options. This type of game-based approach would likely appeal to youth and adults. Third, the public should be directed to established nutritional guidelines and other credible resources for making healthful food choices.”