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The Douglass Report June 2005

June 2005 PDF

Eat all the fried food you want without
feeling guilty or increasing your heart attack risk

As they used to say in WWII, “loose lips sink ships.” How can I put it in comparison to the misleading headlines we’re bombarded with these days? How about, “Loose labels create fables?

Here’s a classic example of how headlines—intentionally or not—shape opinions: “Fried Fish Raises Stroke Risk, Broiled or Baked Reduces it, Study Finds.” This was not the correct message, as I will explain.

Here’s the way it works: The reader reads the headline: “Fried Fish Raises Stroke Risk.” Hmm, he muses, that’s interesting. So he reads the first paragraph: “Harvard researchers found in a study of more than 4,700 older people that eating fried fish or fish sandwiches was associated with a higher risk of stroke.”

The reader is now completely flummoxed and badly misled. The he goes on to read the details of the article: “…consumption of fried fish or fish sandwiches was associated with a 37 percent higher risk of all kinds of stroke, and a 44 percent higher risk of ischemic stroke, the kind that occurs when a clot blocks an artery.” That should end your love affair with fried foods, but it probably won’t. And it doesn’t necessarily have to.

If you ask most doctors whether fried foods are unhealthy, they would probably say yes. Everyone hears the word “fried” and envisions grease pouring into the liver, the gallbladder groaning in complaint, and the bowels in a discontented and spastic upheaval. Of course, no one knows why fried food is bad. Everybody just knows it is. And while doctors feel confident that they are on sound ground in making the assertion that fried food is probably bad, most of them eat fried foods just like everybody else.

Why you should start at the end

By the time you get to the end of the article the truth about the study finally starts to emerge.

Another dietary study in the same issue of the journal found the type of fats consumed by middle-aged men might be more important than overall fat intake in reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease,” reporter Ed Edelson tells us in HealthDayNews.

I’ll give Edelson credit in that he finally came through, albeit in a “by-the-way” fashion, to tell readers that it’s the type of oil that is important, not the method of cooking.

But that’s far from the impression one gets from the article’s headline. And you know as well as I do how short most people’s attention spans are (in fact, if you’re still reading this, congratulate yourself). Most people will read that (“fried food bad”) and think “OK, I knew that—don’t need to read the article.”

All these people only have half the story and will end up either denying themselves something they really don’t have to or feeling guilty about eating things they “know” they shouldn’t.

Actions to take:

1.) You can save yourself a lot of hassle—and flavor—knowing the truth about frying. As long as you’re using the right kinds of oil (olive, palm, coconut), go ahead and fry away.

2.) When in doubt, eat sushi.

References “Fish Consumption and Stroke Risk in Elderly Individuals,” Archives of Internal Medicine 2005; 165(2): 200-206

“Fried Fish Raises Stroke Risk: Broiled or baked reduces it, study finds,” HealthDayNews, 1/24/05

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