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Traditional Southern diet, stroke may be linked, researcher says

A study presented this week shows that a traditional Southern diet, with fatty, salty and sugary foods, might be associated with stroke risk.
(Associated Press)

Traditional Southern diets may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, a researcher said at a conference on Thursday.

The lead researcher, Suzanne Judd, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, said her study is the first large-scale effort to look at stroke and a diet of such foods as fried chicken and fish, bacon, ham and sweet teas.

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“Fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” Judd said in a statement. Those are all factors in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research was presented at the International Stroke Conference in Hawaii.

Her study involved more than 20,000 whites and African Americans age 45 and older who underwent medical assessments and answered questions about their eating habits and health in 2003 to 2007. People who ate traditional Southern diets lived in various places, but about two-thirds of them lived in the southeastern United States, Judd said.

Previous research has shown that Southerners are about 20% more likely to have a stroke than people who live in the rest of the country. Judd’s work found that stroke frequency was proportional to consumption of Southern food.

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People who ate Southern food six times a week had a 41% higher risk of stroke, compared with people who ate such food once a month. And, the study found, a traditional Southern diet accounted for 63% of the higher risk of stroke among African Americans, compared with white Americans.

Mary.MacVean@latimes.com

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