• Mayo Clinic Minute: Why Southern food is linked to high blood pressure

A traditional Southern diet – identified as fried foods, organ meats, processed meats, egg and egg dishes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and bread – play a large role in the prevalence of high blood pressure in the African-American population, according to a recent study. Researchers say along with diet, activity level, environmental and socio-economic conditions also can be factors.

Dr. Ivan Porter II, a nephrologist at Mayo Clinic, says the study helps to hone down on some dietary changes that people can make and have a pretty large impact on blood pressure.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Please ‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’ Read the script.

Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and sweet tea: …

"… Those tend to play a larger role in the Southern diet, and we know that those are associated with high blood pressure," says Dr. Porter.

That’s because Southern cooking tends to be high in saturated fats, salts and loaded with added sugar – all risk factors for hypertension. And these excesses are major risk factors for heart disease, stroke, vision problems and kidney disease – huge problems in the African-American community, says Dr. Porter.

"Forty-one percent of African-Americans can have high blood pressure, compared with 27 percent of their white counterparts or Caucasians." Dr. Porter says it’s time to change that.

"If you can change the way that you approach your diet, you can certainly change the impact that high blood pressure can have on your health."

But it doesn’t mean fried chicken is completely off the menu. Everything must be in moderation.

Dr. Porter tells his patients to start change by eliminating one high risk food at a time. "Look at the calories that they’re getting from sugar-sweetened beverages and try to eliminate that as a start."

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