Southern-style diet associated with higher odds for sudden cardiac death

I love my wife’s “GRITS” T-shirt. “GRITS” stands for “Girls Raised in The South.” We were both born and raised in the south, so we’ve also followed the data on what we were fed growing up!

In my and Dr. Phil Bishop’s book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices for a Healthier, Happier You, we wrote:

Before sharing the best nutrition plans, let us suggest what may be the worst diet in America. (Know that we say this as thoroughly Southern boys!)

The most damaging diet, according to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is the “Southern-Style Diet”—described as including “fried food, cheesy casseroles, and sweet, sweet tea,” as well as “high amounts of salt, sugar, and fat.”

In fact, the authors describe the diet as “deadly, especially to African-Americans,” by increasing “blood pressure up to killer levels.”

A 2019 study of more than 100,000 postmenopausal women showed “frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, was associated with a higher risk of all-cause, and cardiovascular, mortality in women in the US.”



Now, new research confirms what we told you.

HealthDay reports that the “traditional Southern-style” diet, which is “heavy in fried foods, fats, and sugary drinks, may” be associated with higher “odds for sudden cardiac death, a new study warns.”

Healio adds that the researchers found that “higher Mediterranean diet score trended toward association with lower 10-year risk for sudden cardiac death, whereas higher Southern diet score trended toward association with higher 10-year sudden cardiac death risk.”

The research, published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that adults who regularly followed a Southern-style diet with a higher intake of added fats, fried foods, eggs, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages had a 46% greater odds of suffering from sudden cardiac death, compared with those who adhered less to the diet.

The findings, based on data from over 21,000 participants ages 45 and older, also revealed that those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet had a 26% lower odds of sudden cardiac death, compared with those who adhered less to the diet.

I would agree with the recommendation for all my readers to consider a Mediterranean type diet. In my book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices for a Healthier, Happier You, I write:

What were the best diets?

In 2019 the “Best Diets Overall” and “The Best Diets for Healthy Eating” were

  • the Mediterranean Diet, followed by
  • the DASH Diet and
  • the Flexitarian Diet.

In “The Easiest Diet to Follow,”

  • the Mediterranean Diet was tops, followed by a second-place tie between
  • the Flexitarian and
  • Weight Watchers diets.

The best three diets for weight loss were, in order:

  • the WW (Weight Watchers) Diet, followed by a second-place tie between
  • the Volumetrics Diet, and
  • the Flexitarian Diet.

For the best “Heart-Healthy Diets,”

  • the Mediterranean Diet and
  • the Ornish Diet tied for first, followed by
  • the DASH Diet.

In the “Best Plant-Based Diet” category, the experts chose, in this order,

  • the Mediterranean Diet,
  • the Flexitarian Diet, with the
  • Nordic diet and
  • Ornish diets in a third-place tie.

In the “Best Commercial Diet Plans,” the winners were the

  • WW (Weight Watchers) Diet,
  • the Jenny Craig Diet, and
  • the Nutritarian diet.

We don’t think you can go wrong with any of these.

In fact, two eating plans—(1) a vegetarian diet that includes eggs and dairy and (2) the Mediterranean diet—were shown to be equally effective in reducing body weight, BMI, and fat mass in a three-month randomized trial of 100 adults.

The vegetarian diet was better lowering LDL and the Mediterranean better at lowering triglyceride levels; so, it was concluded, both protected heart health equally.

Our current favorite to recommend is the Mediterranean Diet, followed closely by the Flexitarian and DASH diets, which emphasize consuming lots of fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fatty foods like fish, nuts, and olive oil.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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