Traditional Southern Diet Linked to Strokes: Are We Surprised?

First Posted: Feb 08, 2013 08:03 AM EST

We probably shouldn't be surprised. After all, we've watched Paula Deen on the Food Channel for years adding that extra stick of butter in order to make her Southern-inspired dishes taste better. A new study, however, confirms what we all probably long expected. A traditional Southern diet is linked to strokes.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Suzanna Judd, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, is the first large-scale effort to look at how a diet of fried chicken, bacon, ham and sweet teas can raise the possibility of stroke. Judd and colleagues medically assessed 20,000 patients aged 45 and older. The patients then took surveys and answered questions about their eating habits and health in 2003 and 2007. Although people who ate traditional Southern diets lived across the U.S., about two-thirds of those involved in the study were located in the southeastern portion of the U.S.

Although previous research indicated that Southerners are about 20 percent more likely to have a stroke than people who live in the rest of the country, this study showed that the frequency of stroke was proportional to the consumption of a southern diet. In fact, people who ate Southern food six times per week had about a 41 percent higher risk of stroke, compared with people who just ate Southern food once per month. In addition, the study found that the diet accounted for 63 percent of the higher risk of stroke among African Americans, compared with white Americans.

With foods such as fried chicken and hushpuppies, this study is perhaps not surprising. However, it does bring up questions of what and how we eat. Cutting down on fried, fatty foods is probably a wise idea--whether you happen to be in the South or not.

EDIT: The picture has been changed to better reflect the article.

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