Eating A Southern Diet Might Raise Your Heart Attack Risk

It may be time to lay off the sweet tea: According to a new study, consumption of Southern-style foods and drinks could lead to greater heart attack risk.

The study, conducted out of the University of Alabama and published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found that people who eat Southern-style foods — characterized by fried foods, fatty foods, eggs, processed meats (bacon and ham), organ meats (liver) and sugary drinks — are at a 56 percent higher risk for heart disease than those who eat them less frequently.

Using data from participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study of white and African American men ages 45 and older, researchers initially screened the study’s 17,000 participants by phone. For the initial process, participants were given a physical exam and asked how often and how much they had consumed certain foods in the previous year. Participants then kept in touch with researchers over the next six years.

Participants were asked to characterize their diets using five distinct categories that researchers created based on what foods people ate with the most frequency. These were not meant to encompass every meal eaten, but rather which diet pattern their food preferences most closely resembled. They included “convenience”-based (featuring common takeout foods, from pizza to burritos), plant-based (vegetables, fruits, cereal, beans), sweets (sodas and juices, desserts, chocolate, candy, sweet breakfasts) and Southern.

No participants had any heart problems at the beginning of the study, and every six months they were asked to check in via phone about their general health. researchers controlled for energy intake and a combination of demographic and lifestyle factors.

Researchers found that the people most likely to eat Southern-style diets tended to be male, African American, residents of Southern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, —> Read More