MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – A still to be released study shows that in the Philippines, the incidence of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is highest among devout Catholics. And it has to do with Fridays and Lent.
We are in the midst of the holiest of seasons, which culminates on Easter Sunday. Each Friday during Lent, Catholics are expected to abstain from meat. But the more devout Catholics have made every Friday throughout the year as “fish Friday.”
So what has that got to do with high blood pressure?
Many Filipinos don’t have easy access to fresh fish, or where it is readily available, the cost is prohibitive. So they turn to dried fish 🐟 which is fairly inexpensive: tuyo, tinapa, dilis.
Problem is, dried fish has a very high sodium content, as high as 166% of daily nutritional values. (See nutritional chart for dried fish)
In most people, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with the excess sodium in the bloodstream. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to heart failure. There is also some evidence that too much salt can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys without increasing blood pressure, and that it may be bad for bones, too.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. It accounts for two-thirds of all strokes and half of heart disease.
Imagine consuming high amounts of sodium every Friday, assuming one doesn’t eat dried fish on other days of the week. Overload!
So, we’re calling on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to grant all Filipinos a special dispensation from abstinence so that we may be able to significantly reduce hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the country.
Either that or Catholic Churches should give out free fresh fish to their congregation on each Friday of the year. That’s a good way to unload and liquidate their financial investments.