Southern diet may be tasty, but it comes with risks

Southern diet may be tasty, but it comes with risks

By now, you’ve heard plenty of praise for popular health regimens such as the Mediterranean and Paleo diets, as well as tried-and-true plans like the Atkins and South Beach diets. All claim to be the shortest road between where your health is now and what you want it to be.

Now comes the Southern diet, and while a good many people love it, new research shows it’s a path best avoided.

Dense in calories with little fresh fruit, vegetables or whole grains, the diet is almost the polar opposite of plans such as the Mediterranean, in which people eat more plants and less meat and sugar.

In a University of Alabama study of hypertension rates among African-American and white adults, researchers followed nearly 7,000 participants for nine years. In results reported in JAMA, they found 46 percent of the black participants and 33 percent of the white participants developed hypertension during the study period.

The biggest statistical factor for elevated levels of high blood pressure was a Southern diet. The study found a nearly 30 percent excess risk among black women and 52 percent higher risk among black men. Black participants scored high on the Southern diet scale, where values are associated with the intake of fried foods, organ meats, processed meats, eggs, added fats, high-fat dairy, sugary beverages and bread.

The study found little evidence that alcohol consumption and lifestyle stresses contributed significantly to hypertension, but the researchers said the impact of stress might not have been sufficiently measured.

Bless your heart… as tempting as those fried goodies and scoops of butter may be, you’re better off turning down the Southern diet.

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