Eating traditional foods from the South like deep-fried chicken while drinking sugary teas and other sweetened beverages may increase your risk for stroke, according to results from a new study reported Thursday at an American Stroke Association conference in Honolulu.
Researchers say the study is the first major look at the link between diet and stroke and may explain why blacks in the Southeast, also known as the nation's "stroke belt", suffer more strokes than those in the rest of the country.
Indeed, the study found blacks were five times more likely than whites to consume so-called Southern foods that are linked to the highest stroke risk. Both blacks and whites living in the South were also found to consume more Southern foods than the rest of the nation. Yet, more blacks have strokes than whites, which researchers conclude may be due to diet.
"We're talking about fried foods, french fries, hamburgers, processed meats, hot dogs, bacon, ham, liver, gizzards and sugary drinks,” the study's leader, Suzanne Judd of the University of Alabama in Birmingham told the Associated Press.
According to researchers, people who ate about six meals a week consuming such foods had a 41 percent higher stroke risk than those who ate the same foods just once a month. On the other hand, they found those who ate meals 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," she added, meaning the likelihood of a stroke rises in proportion to each Southern meal consumed in a week.