Individuals, who are planning a typical Southern-style Fourth of July buffet of fried chicken, pork rinds, buttermilk biscuits, and sweet tea, make it a once-in-a-while thing.
A new study cautions that these staples of a regional diet high in fried foods, fats, and sugary drinks may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Southern U.S. Diet Can Be Flavorsome And Fatal
The good news is that those who follow the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, and legumes and low in meat and dairy, may be able to reduce their risk.
Diet is a modifiable risk factor – something people can change, according to the main author James Shikany. At the University of Alabama in Birmingham, he is the associate director of research in the division of preventive medicine.
As a result, shifting to a Mediterranean-style diet as much as feasible may be good for preventing sudden cardiac death and improving cardiovascular health in general.
According to him, the current study does not establish that a Southern-style diet causes an increase in sudden cardiac death, simply that it is associated with an elevated risk.
They conduct the evaluations as thoroughly as possible, but they can never be certain it was the cause. They are, however, as certain as they can be in an observational environment, according to Shikany.
In a study of geographical and ethnic variations in stroke etiology, his team collected data on almost 21,000 people. Participants had no underlying cardiac disease before the research began.
The researchers investigated the relationship between individuals’ diet and their risk of abrupt loss of cardiac function, which may be deadly in minutes. The majority of sudden cardiac fatalities are caused by irregular heart rhythms known as arrhythmias.
More than 400 unexpected cardiac deaths occurred among research participants after an average of nearly ten years of follow-up.
The study also discovered that individuals who ate a Southern-style diet the most frequently had a 46 percent higher risk of sudden cardiac mortality than those who ate it the least frequently.
Participants who followed the Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, had a 26% reduced risk of sudden cardiac mortality when compared to those who ate the least of these items.
It is not unusual for people to die suddenly after a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, it caused roughly one out of every eight fatalities in the United States in 2016 – about 367,000 deaths.
Despite the gloomy statistics, Shikany understands how difficult it is to change one’s eating habits. His advice is to gradually transition away from Southern-style foods and incline toward more Mediterranean-style options.
People should not anticipate a one-size-fits-all strategy to modifying their diet, he says. Something that works in one community may not function in another.
According to Shikany, important determinants of diet include whether people have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and whether they can buy them.
It is simple to urge people to do this, but he questioned if they live in an area where nutritious food is readily available and reasonably priced.
The findings did not surprise Samantha Heller, a senior clinical dietitian at NYU Langone Health in New York City. She pointed out that the South is commonly referred to as the Stroke Belt or the Diabetes Belt due to the region’s high incidence of stroke and diabetes.
Adding abrupt cardiac death to the list is regrettable, but not surprising, according to Heller.
According to her, the South is famed for its menus that are abundant in fried meals, meats, rich desserts, sugary drinks, and high-fat, high-sodium items. According to Heller, eating them daily has been found to increase the risk of numerous chronic illnesses.
However, dietary behaviors frequently have strong cultural roots, and transitioning from an unhealthy to a healthy eating style can be challenging, according to her.