Eating fried foods and sugary drinks more than doubles the risk of heart disease, a study has revealed.
Researchers found people who regularly eat fried foods, eggs, processed meats like bacon and ham and sugary drinks are 56 per cent more likely to have heart problems than those who eat a healthier diet.
This so-called ‘Southern-style diet’ increased the risk of a heart attack or a heart-related death during the next six years.
Dr James Shikany, of the University of Alabama, urged people who regularly eat these foods to consider changing their diet.
Eating fried foods and sugary drinks more than doubles the risk of heart disease, according to new research
'Regardless of your gender, race, or where you live, if you frequently eat a Southern-style diet you should be aware of your risk of heart disease and try to make some gradual changes to your diet.
'Try cutting down the number of times you eat fried foods or processed meats from every day to three days a week as a start, and try substituting baked or grilled chicken or vegetable-based foods.'
The study included both white and African-American men and women aged 45 or older, who did not have heart disease when they began the study.
They first answered questions via the telephone, before being given an in-home physical exam and answering a food-frequency questionnaire.
They were followed from 2003 to 2007, interviewed every six months about their general health and whether they had been hospitalised.
Eating a ‘Southern-style diet’ including fried foods, eggs, processed meats like bacon and ham and sugary drinks increased the risk of a heart attack or a heart-related death during the next six years
The people in the study were divided into five different eating groups.
These included the Southern style eaters who gorged on fried foods and sugary drinks and those who favoured convenience foods like pasta, Mexican food, Chinese food, mixed dishes and pizza.
The other groups were those who ate a 'plant-based' pattern which was mostly vegetables and fruits, and those who ate the 'sweets' pattern, which included added sugars, desserts, chocolate and sweetened breakfast foods.
The last group ate a diet of beer, wine, liquor, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and salad dressing and researchers called this the “alcohol and salad” pattern.
The Southern-style eaters were the only ones faced with a higher risk of heart disease, they found.
The research was published in the journal Circulation.