Southern food diet is tasty, but risky, study finds

A diet filled with Southern-style foods can lead to an increased risk of stroke, a new federally funded study has found.
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE Modified: February 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013

• Southern: Fried foods, processed meats, 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.

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