Southern diet may lead to more strokes

By Sheryl Kay • Published: May 28th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Southern cuisine is known far and wide for its ability to make mouths water. Fried chicken, buttered biscuits, thick gravy, and sizzling pork rinds are just a very few of the regional delicacies that bring people running to the kitchen table.

But the dishes don’t just raise a crowd. Washed down with cool sweet iced tea, these foods often raise sugar levels and blood pressure, too. And now the incidence of stroke among Southern food aficionados is also higher.

More than 20,000 black and white adults participated in the first large-scale study conducted to determine the association between typical Southern cuisine and the occurrence of stroke. Men and women 45 and up participated in an in-person medical evaluation, with follow up tests every six months. Health assessments were correlated to dietary practices … and similar patterns consistently arose.

The rate of strokes was directly proportional to how much Southern-style food participants consumed. In fact, those who ate Southern fare almost every day had a 41 percent higher stroke risk than those who ate it once a month.

The study was also particularly problematic for African-Americans who were five times more likely to eat Southern foods than whites. Eating a Southern diet accounted for almost 65 percent of the higher risk of stroke among African-Americans above that of their white counterparts.

The researchers did note that although Southern-style foods might be most often consumed down south, cuisine knows no borders, and the heavily salted, fried and sweet foods that lead to a higher rate of strokes are available everywhere. Hence … the warning crosses borders. Forget the Mason-Dixon Line. Pay more attention to the ingredients in the foods you eat in order to lower the possibility of a stroke.