Southern food may be tasty, but study also links it to sudden death

Southern American cooking is known for being as tasty as it is unhealthy. Foods are often deep-fried, filled with fat and salt, while the beverages are often sweet. According to new research published by the American Heart Association, eating this diet on a regular basis may also increase your risk of suddenly dying from a heart problem.

In the US, Southern food involves things like eggs, processed meat, organ meats like "giblets," as well as sugary beverages and fried foods. Eating this type of diet regularly has been linked to sudden cardiac death, according to a new observational study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The findings were based on data from more than 21,000 people who were over the age of 45. These individuals had participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) research project starting from 2003 to 2007.

Of note, a little more than half of the participants lived in the southeastern United States, which is sometimes called the "Stroke Belt" due to its high death rate from strokes. This particular study focused on sudden cardiac death, which is when someone suddenly loses heart function that leads to death within the hour.

Based on data gathered from the participants, the study found that regularly eating a Southern-style diet was linked to a 46-percent higher risk of experiencing this kind of sudden death compared to people who were least likely to eat this diet style. On the flip side, however, people who regularly consumed the traditional Mediterranean diet had a 26-percent lower risk.