A new study by the University of Alabama has stated that foods synonymous with Southern US, such as fried food and sweet tea, can increase an individual's risk of heart attack and even death.
Collecting data from 17,418 people aged over 45 from across the USA, the team identified five major dietary patterns, such as convenience foods , plant-based foods, sweets and the 'southern pattern'. The last of these involved fried foods, eggs, organ meats and sugary drinks.
After the participants were followed for six years, a total of 536 heart attacks were recorded, and those who were linked most closely to the 'southern pattern' were 37 per cent more likely to have a heart attack. Even when other factors were considered, such as age, race, blood pressure, weight and education, the link still strongly remained. It is important to note, however, that while the other four dietary patterns did not increase risk, it doesn't mean they are necessarily heart-healthy.
James Shikany of the University of Alabama said: "If their overall pattern of eating seems to closely match those components, they may want to move away from that… I wouldn’t say go ahead and eat all the convenience food you want. From what I know about it, it’s much more successful when you give people options and not suggest eliminating complete groups of food."
It is also widely recommended that, in conjunction with a good diet, individuals should exercise regularly, not smoke and maintain a healthy weight. While previous studies have looked at specific foods that may be harmful to one's health, this research is suggesting that we should be looking at entire diets.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation.
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