The news was not good for us Southerns, who prefer our food cooked with animal fat.
But there it was, a week ago today, on the front page of this newspaper, a story that showed that people who have diets heavy with deep-fried foods and sugary drinks were more likely to suffer a stroke. Elsewhere on the page was news of Dewey defeating Truman, the Kennedy assassination, that man had landed on the moon and Elvis had died.
OK, so we made some of that up, but not the part about the study linking fried foods with the risk of stroke. We didn’t do a study, but would offer that fried foods also add to the risk of heart disease.
The study’s leader, Suzanne Judd of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, indicted such Southern staples as french fries, hamburgers, processed meats, hot dogs, bacon, ham, liver, gizzards and sugary drinks.
In other words, lunch.
We thought this study had already been done and that the link already proven, but perhaps we were reading ahead.
It’s not a laughing matter.
The study demonstrates why we are living in an area designated the “Stroke Belt,” where blacks are five times more likely to suffer a stroke than whites, and everyone whose diet leans too heavily toward fried food and sugary drinks is at a heightened risk.
The study, paid for with federal dollars, was launched in 2002 to explore regional variations in stroke risks and reasons for them. More than 20,000 people 45 or older — half of them black — from all 48 mainland states filled out food surveys and were sorted into one of five diet styles:
n Southern: Fried foods, processed meats, red meat, eggs, sweet drinks and whole milk.
n Convenience: Mexican and Chinese food, pizza, pasta.
n Plant-based: Fruits, vegetables, juice, cereal, fish, poultry, yogurt, nuts and whole-grain bread.
n Sweets: Added fats, breads, chocolate, desserts, sweet breakfast foods.
n Alcohol: Beer, wine, liquor, green leafy vegetables, salad dressings, nuts and seeds, coffee.
There were a greater number of strokes reported among those whose diet was classified as Southern, while those who preferred plant-based foods were on the other end of the spectrum.
It’s the same diet that has resulted in North Carolina being one of the most obese states in the country, and Robeson being among the most obese counties in the state.
So what’s the answer? We know folks around these parts aren’t going to give up their barbecue and burgers, and if they did, what would the plates include that have raised all the money for our rescue squads, fire departments, churches and schools?
As with most things, moderation is the key. Some exercise would help too.