WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A study has proven that the Southern diet is a major contributor to causing high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart disease.
- The Southern diet – which is loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium – is the main reason African-Americans have a shorter life expectancy than white people.
- All Americans should be wary of this since diet affects the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
A recent study, published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has discovered that heart disease, which is mostly caused by high blood pressure, is the main reason African-Americans die younger than white people — and the Southern-style diet is the main contributor.
The Southern diet usually involves a lot of fried food, cheesy casseroles, and sweet tea. It’s rich and delicious, but the high amount of fat, sugar, and sodium raises blood pressure up to deadly levels.
The study involved nearly 7,000 people who were also participants in a larger, long-term study of diet and lifestyle. The volunteers went through medical exams between 2003 and 2007 and were re-examined about nine years later.
In the study, George Howard, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues compared blacks to whites in terms of weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, and food choices.
As proven before, blacks had higher rates of early mortality than whites, and heart disease accounted for one-third of the racial differences in life expectancy. Much of that was due to high blood pressure — of which diet turned out to be the major contributor.
While the Southern diet resembles the American diet to some degree — loaded with salt, sugar, white flour, and meat — it was found that “African-Americans eat … a lot more of this diet” and were also less likely to eat healthy foods which lower the risk of heart disease.
The researchers found that obesity also plays a role, but only for women, since “Black men and white men have the same BMI (body mass index)”, while black women were more likely to be obese than white women. For women, obesity was associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure and shorter life expectancy.
Howard stated that the study brings “good news” since the major contributors to racial differences in hypertension “are actually things that can be changed.”
Howard also reminded all Americans that “Bad eating … is not only a Southern experience”, especially since the Southern diet is similar to the American diet.
Several studies have proven that diet affects the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. In line with this, the American Heart Association has released guidelines on lowering both, which include: eating more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains; exercising regularly; eating less sugar; and cutting back on fried food.
Source: NBC News