Feb. 12, 2013 -- The South is known as the "stroke belt," and a new study reinforces one of the key reasons why: its diet.
Those who ate the Southern diet about six times a week had about a 30% higher risk of stroke than those who ate it about once a month, says researcher Suzanne Judd, PhD. She is a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Southern: added fats, fried foods, organ and processed meat, and fatty milk.
Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, green leafy vegetables, salad dressings, nuts and seeds, and coffee.
In addition to being high in fried foods like chicken, liver, ham, and potatoes, the Southern diet includes lots of high-fat dairy, eggs, added salt, and sweetened beverages.
On the plus side, the diet does include green vegetables, like collard greens.
People following the Southern diet don’t just fry their food; they also use unhealthy oils -- for example, bacon grease instead of olive oil, says Judd. “Often in the South, you’ll see people render meat and keep the fat, the bacon fat, and fry okra or potatoes in it; so they’re getting the bacon in their bacon and in their vegetables, too.”