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Southern Diet Boosts Blood Pressure

by Wellness Letter  

A traditional Southern-style diet is the single biggest factor contributing to the high rate of hypertension in black Americans, suggests a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2018. The NIH-funded study looked at potential factors re­­sponsible for this racial disparity in a nationwide sample of 6,900 people (average age 62, one-quarter of whom were black) who were followed for about nine years; Hispanics were not in­­cluded.

The researchers estimated that the Southern-style dietary pattern accounted for half the excess risk among black men and nearly one-third that among black women.The second biggest factor in black men was a high sodium intake and low potassium intake; in black women, higher body weight.

The Southern diet is calorie-dense and includes lots of fried foods, processed meats, organ meats, added fats, sugary beverages, and white bread, with relatively little produce and whole grains.

The prevalence of hypertension in black Americans is among the highest in the world, according to the American Heart Association, and that helps explain why their life expectancy is four years shorter than that of white Americans.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Also see Beware of Southern Cooking.