The occasional splurge on fried chicken, or a dinner of liver with gravy with a tall glass of sweet tea probably won’t hurt you. But if your diet includes those and other traditional Southern food favorites as daily fare, your risk of heart disease could increase by 56 percent over the next six years. This news comes from a large study that examined the effects of 5 different diets on heart health, and included 17,000 white and African-American adults (with no known heart problems) age 45 or older. The participants were recruited throughout the United States, but only the traditional Southern diet yielded the negative results. None of the other diets was linked to the risk of heart disease in this study. The researchers, from the University of Alabama, Boston University and Harvard, characterized Southern fare as fried foods, fatty foods, eggs, processed meats, such as bacon and ham, and sugary drinks. They found that the highest consumers of the Southern diet tended to be male, African American, individuals who had not graduated from high school, and among those who lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.