Obesity. High blood pressure. Stroke. Diabetes. These four health issues are prevalent in the South. They don't call it the stroke belt for nothing. Of course, this should surprise absolutely no one, since traditional Southern food entails the frying of everything in sight. Even our healthy foods get the treatment: fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried squash and zucchini. Our desserts are certainly not exempt: fried ice cream, fried Oreos. The truth is, if you can buy it, we can fry it.
On Jan. 7, the Associated Press reported that a study, led by Suzanne Judd from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, has been able to find a direct causal link between how often we eat our deep fried Southern foods and our health problems. The study showed a 41% increased risk for stroke for people who eat like Southerners six times a week vs. people who only do so once a month.
On the list of artery-clogging foods are normal staples of average diets in the south; foods that don't sound like true Southern dishes: hamburgers, eggs, red meats, whole milk, and not surprisingly, sugary drinks. Yes, even our sweet tea is getting called out.
For many southerners, reversing our inclination toward exceptionally poor health is going to require forgetting everything we know about preparing food and starting over from scratch. The hardest part is going to be accepting that if it's delicious and it's Southern, we probably shouldn't be eating it at all--and certainly not six times a week.