Let Us Talk About The ‘French Paradox’

Rising Agricultural Costs Force Food Prices Higher
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MARCH 25: Fresh country bread and red wine are served with lunch at the Carmella Banahela bistro on March 25, 2008 in Tel Aviv, Israel. World food prices are soaring in the face of what some analysts are describing as a perfect storm of circumstances; increasing demand from developing economies in Asia, rising fuel prices, severe weather impacting recent harvests and an economic shift to biofuel production. All this leaves the consumer paying more for basic staples such as bread and milk and is likely to have its hardest impact on poorer nations. Photo : (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

The French Paradox refers to the low cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) in France despite high intake of foods rich in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat.

France Has Low CHD Rates Because Of Red Wine Consumption

In 2002, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has released data proving that France has 30-40 percent lower risks of developing CHD. This data proved to be ironic since France showed a higher intake saturated fat (108 grams) compared to the U.S. (72 grams).

Previous studies have shown that one of the reasons behind France's low CHD rates may be linked to their regular red wine consumption. In 1976, William Heber-den, and English physician, described ‘wines and liquors . . . afford considerable relief' to angina pectoris- this information paved the way to alcohol being a coronary vasodilator.

The idea of the French Paradox was first coined by Samuel Black in 1819, a cardiologist. His findings proved that the French yielded lower cardiovascular deaths compared to the Irish. He attributed this rates to the French habits and modes of living, coinciding with benignity of their climate and the peculiar character of their moral affections'. Black's findings led to the current thinking that diet and lifestyle may have crucial parts in one's risk for heart disease.

What Consists A Typical French Diet?

A typical French meal consists of a mix of high fat foods like croissants, cheese, pastries, sausages, butter and cold cuts and healthy foods which are specifically good for the heart.


French people tend to drink more alcohol than the British in a year. Alcohol is, in act, generally considered a meal in French culture. They moderately consume one to two glasses per day- just the right amount to provide protection against many cardiovascular risks.


The French plate usually consist of fiber-rich food such as chickpeas, beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other grain products. Fibres in these food products are more soluble than the food eaten by English and Americans. Soluble Fibers are essential in lowering lipid levels. Additionally, these foods are also good sources of antioxidants. Querceptin is an anti oxidant found in red wine. It aids in the reduction of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which are harmful agents in the development of atherosclerosis.

Vegetable Sources Of Protein

A usual French diet consists of high amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The vegetables are specifically the dark-green leafy kind that provides rich sources of folate and folic acid. Animal protein dishes are usually accompanied by ample amounts of salads.

Unsaturated Fat

The French have equal preferences to both unsaturated and saturated fats. Foods like olives, nuts, and olive oil contain rich amounts of unsaturated fats which are very helpful in lowering amounts of LDL cholesterol. Red wine and peanuts all contain Resveratrol, a good antioxidant.

Goose and Duck fat

Animal fats contained in goose and duck are typically used for cooking. They are also used in making pate or mousse such as foie grass. These animal fats contains nutritious compounds similar to olive oil. Olive oil consists 76 percent monounsaturated fats and 15 percent saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats have lower total total and LDL cholesterol- this however does not affect the healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Portion Sizes

French diet contains fewer calories than Americans. Only 11 percent of French are diagnosed with obesity compared to Americans at 30 percent. The high fat content in French diet stimulates the release of the hormone chol-ecystokinin which surpasses hunger therefore preventing eating nd further snack intake. Furthermore, France serve in portion sizes that are about a third to one half of typical American portions.

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