Study: Southern diet, fried foods may raise stroke risk
by Marilynn Marchione
Associated Press Writer
February 08, 2013 12:00 AM | 1060 views | 4 4 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A hamburger and tater tots at a restaurant in Charlotte, N.C. Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. People whose diets are heavy on them and sugary drinks were more likely to suffer a stroke, according to a new study released Thursday.<br>The Associated Press
A hamburger and tater tots at a restaurant in Charlotte, N.C. Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. People whose diets are heavy on them and sugary drinks were more likely to suffer a stroke, according to a new study released Thursday.
The Associated Press
slideshow
Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. People whose diets are heavy on them and sugary drinks like sweet tea and soda were more likely to suffer a stroke, a new study finds.

It’s the first big look at diet and strokes, and researchers say it might help explain why blacks in the Southeast — the nation’s “stroke belt” — suffer more of them.

Blacks were five times more likely than whites to have the Southern dietary pattern linked with the highest stroke risk. And blacks and whites who live in the South were more likely to eat this way than people in other parts of the country were. Diet might explain as much as two-thirds of the excess stroke risk seen in blacks versus whites, researchers concluded.

“We’re talking about fried foods, french fries, hamburgers, processed meats, hot dogs,” bacon, ham, liver, gizzards and sugary drinks, said the study’s leader, Suzanne Judd of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

People who ate about six meals a week featuring these sorts of foods had a 41 percent higher stroke risk than people who ate that way about once a month, researchers found.

In contrast, people whose diets were high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish had a 29 percent lower stroke risk.

“It’s a very big difference,” Judd said. “The message for people in the middle is there’s a graded risk” — the likelihood of suffering a stroke rises in proportion to each Southern meal in a week.

Results were reported Thursday at an American Stroke Association conference in Honolulu.

The federally funded study was launched in 2002 to explore regional variations in stroke risks and reasons for them. More than 20,000 people 45 or older — half of them black — from all 48 mainland states filled out food surveys and were sorted into one of five diet styles:

—Southern: Fried foods, processed meats (lunchmeat, jerky), red meat, eggs, sweet drinks and whole milk.

—Convenience: Mexican and Chinese food, pizza, pasta.

—Plant-based: Fruits, vegetables, juice, cereal, fish, poultry, yogurt, nuts and whole-grain bread.

—Sweets: Added fats, breads, chocolate, desserts, sweet breakfast foods.

—Alcohol: Beer, wine, liquor, green leafy vegetables, salad dressings, nuts and seeds, coffee.

“They’re not mutually exclusive” — for example, hamburgers fall into both convenience and Southern diets, Judd said. Each person got a score for each diet, depending on how many meals leaned that way.

Over more than five years of follow-up, nearly 500 strokes occurred. Researchers saw clear patterns with the Southern and plant-based diets; the other three didn’t seem to affect stroke risk.

There were 138 strokes among the 4,977 who ate the most Southern food, compared to 109 strokes among the 5,156 people eating the least of it.

There were 122 strokes among the 5,076 who ate the most plant-based meals, compared to 135 strokes among the 5,056 people who seldom ate that way.

The trends held up after researchers took into account other factors such as age, income, smoking, education, exercise and total calories consumed.

Fried foods tend to be eaten with lots of salt, which raises blood pressure — a known stroke risk factor, Judd said. And sweet drinks can contribute to diabetes, the disease that celebrity chef Paula Deen — the queen of Southern cuisine — revealed she had a year ago.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, drugmaker Amgen Inc. and General Mills Inc. funded the study.

“This study does strongly suggest that food does have an influence and people should be trying to avoid these kinds of fatty foods and high sugar content,” said an independent expert, Dr. Brian Silver, a Brown University neurologist and stroke center director at Rhode Island Hospital.

“I don’t mean to sound like an ogre. I know when I’m in New Orleans I certainly enjoy the food there. But you don’t have to make a regular habit of eating all this stuff.”
Comments
(4)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Healthy Living
|
February 08, 2013
I am not much of a cook, nor do I have a desire to be one. I often wish someone would come out with a true "healthy foods people will really want to eat" take-out restaurant. I don't mean beans with tofu or marinated beets and cabbage. The few places to go around me that serve vegetable plates use ingredients the same as in hamburgers, etc. Anyone out there looking for a new restaurant idea, I am giving you one that is surely in demand! Naysayers need not respond!
NtheNo
|
February 08, 2013
Probably true. My grandfather died of a stroke after 93 years of a steady "southern" diet.
VFP42
|
February 08, 2013
Fried foods don't kill people. People kill people.

Frieds foods just sit there rotting unless some person takes action.
Jill B.
|
February 08, 2013
The more studies regarding "what is not good for you" people are still gaining. All you have to do is go to any restaurant/fast food and people watch. It is truly sad.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides