The Harms Associated with Eating More Southern-Style Food

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Diet appears to mediate the majority of the racial health gap.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“African Americans have a higher burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than other American ethnic groups.” But recent evidence indicates that eating a plant-based diet may help eliminate such health disparities, as I explored previously in my video How a Plant-Based Diet Can Help Reduce Black-White Health Disparities. African Americans as a group tend to have the highest reported meat consumption, and the lowest vegetable consumption. Part of this is access, but this article detailing the experience of a Morehouse lifestyle medical clinic noted that there also appears to be an issue with aspects of the African American food culture.

Enter the REGARDS study: “The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study: Objectives and Design.” The study found that regardless of where African Americans live in the United States, they are much more likely to consume what the researchers called a “Southern diet,” which is a dietary pattern “characterized by added fats, fried foods, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.” They found that this type of dietary pattern mediates the majority of the racial disparity. “[A]dherence to the Southern [dietary] pattern increased stroke risk by 39 percent in Black Americans. In contrast, the greatest benefit was seen among participants who followed a more plant-based dietary pattern, which conferred a 29 percent lower stroke risk.”

It’s the same thing with heart failure. Eating more plant-based was associated with a 41 percent lower risk of heart failure, while the Southern dietary pattern was associated with a 72 percent higher risk, and this is after controlling for things like education and income.

Death from kidney disease; it’s the same thing. Eating more plant-based is linked to a lower risk of mortality, whereas eating closer to the Southern diet was associated with a greater risk of kidney disease mortality. Those eating more Southern-style diets likewise had a 56 percent higher hazard of acute heart disease.

This finding of this study was particularly interesting: “Diet patterns and risk of sepsis in community-dwelling adults: a cohort study.” Sepsis is the syndrome of body-wide inflammation triggered by infection, and is a major public health problem. That’s how an infection can kill you. Now, we know diet plays a vital role in immune health, but its association with sepsis was unclear. But in the study, a Southern pattern of eating was associated with higher risk of sepsis as well, particularly among Black participants.

What about cognitive function? Once again, greater consumption of the Southern dietary pattern was associated with worse outcomes, lower scores on the assessments of each of the cognitive domains, like learning and memory, whereas greater consumption of the plant-based pattern was associated with higher scores. You can see the data on learning in the video. The more plant-based people ate, the better they were at a learning task. Meanwhile, the more Southern style people ate, the worse they were at learning. It’s the same thing with memory. Better the more plant based; worse the more Southern style. It is therefore possible that the increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans could be partially reduced via dietary modification.

It’s easy for privileged me to tell people to eat healthier, but isn’t it expensive to eat plant-based? Uh, have you seen the price of beans? There is this common misconception that plant-based diets are more costly than animal-based ones; so, proper education will be needed. A vegetarian diet could result in approximately $750 per year in savings. So, healthier and cheaper. What would you do with an extra $750 in your pocket, not to mention all the healthcare cost savings? I mean, “a plant-based dinner consisting of red beans, brown rice, collard greens, sweet potato, and cornbread could feed a family of four for under $12 or $3 per person.” Check it out. Some of the healthiest foods on the planet are some of the cheapest foods. Such a meal would not only be cost-eective, but nutritious, providing a mountain of nutrition plus a host of antioxidants to protect against various diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Here’s the save-$750-bucks-a-year-eating-more-plant-based study. Why? Because you’re cutting out meat/poultry/seafood. When one considers total grocery costs, animal products can be the most expensive components, costing more than double the cost of a serving of vegetables or legumes like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“African Americans have a higher burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than other American ethnic groups.” But recent evidence indicates that eating a plant-based diet may help eliminate such health disparities, as I explored previously in my video How a Plant-Based Diet Can Help Reduce Black-White Health Disparities. African Americans as a group tend to have the highest reported meat consumption, and the lowest vegetable consumption. Part of this is access, but this article detailing the experience of a Morehouse lifestyle medical clinic noted that there also appears to be an issue with aspects of the African American food culture.

Enter the REGARDS study: “The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study: Objectives and Design.” The study found that regardless of where African Americans live in the United States, they are much more likely to consume what the researchers called a “Southern diet,” which is a dietary pattern “characterized by added fats, fried foods, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.” They found that this type of dietary pattern mediates the majority of the racial disparity. “[A]dherence to the Southern [dietary] pattern increased stroke risk by 39 percent in Black Americans. In contrast, the greatest benefit was seen among participants who followed a more plant-based dietary pattern, which conferred a 29 percent lower stroke risk.”

It’s the same thing with heart failure. Eating more plant-based was associated with a 41 percent lower risk of heart failure, while the Southern dietary pattern was associated with a 72 percent higher risk, and this is after controlling for things like education and income.

Death from kidney disease; it’s the same thing. Eating more plant-based is linked to a lower risk of mortality, whereas eating closer to the Southern diet was associated with a greater risk of kidney disease mortality. Those eating more Southern-style diets likewise had a 56 percent higher hazard of acute heart disease.

This finding of this study was particularly interesting: “Diet patterns and risk of sepsis in community-dwelling adults: a cohort study.” Sepsis is the syndrome of body-wide inflammation triggered by infection, and is a major public health problem. That’s how an infection can kill you. Now, we know diet plays a vital role in immune health, but its association with sepsis was unclear. But in the study, a Southern pattern of eating was associated with higher risk of sepsis as well, particularly among Black participants.

What about cognitive function? Once again, greater consumption of the Southern dietary pattern was associated with worse outcomes, lower scores on the assessments of each of the cognitive domains, like learning and memory, whereas greater consumption of the plant-based pattern was associated with higher scores. You can see the data on learning in the video. The more plant-based people ate, the better they were at a learning task. Meanwhile, the more Southern style people ate, the worse they were at learning. It’s the same thing with memory. Better the more plant based; worse the more Southern style. It is therefore possible that the increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans could be partially reduced via dietary modification.

It’s easy for privileged me to tell people to eat healthier, but isn’t it expensive to eat plant-based? Uh, have you seen the price of beans? There is this common misconception that plant-based diets are more costly than animal-based ones; so, proper education will be needed. A vegetarian diet could result in approximately $750 per year in savings. So, healthier and cheaper. What would you do with an extra $750 in your pocket, not to mention all the healthcare cost savings? I mean, “a plant-based dinner consisting of red beans, brown rice, collard greens, sweet potato, and cornbread could feed a family of four for under $12 or $3 per person.” Check it out. Some of the healthiest foods on the planet are some of the cheapest foods. Such a meal would not only be cost-eective, but nutritious, providing a mountain of nutrition plus a host of antioxidants to protect against various diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Here’s the save-$750-bucks-a-year-eating-more-plant-based study. Why? Because you’re cutting out meat/poultry/seafood. When one considers total grocery costs, animal products can be the most expensive components, costing more than double the cost of a serving of vegetables or legumes like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

How a Plant-Based Diet Can Help Reduce Racial Health Disparities was my previous video on this topic.

Didn’t that $3 meal sound delicious? The AfroVegan Society has a great starter guide for plant-based eating. Check it out here.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here. Read our important information about translations here.

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