What is the "French paradox"?

The French paradox is a way of referring to the fact that the French, who consume far more saturated fat than Americans, have comparatively low cardiovascular disease rates. One possible explanation for the French paradox is that culture’s penchant for flavanol-rich red wine, which is fermented with the grape skins that contain most of the fruit’s flavanols.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine

French people tend to eat more foods that are high in calories and saturated fat than Americans, yet they weigh less, live longer, and have lower rates of heart disease, a phenomenon that some experts have dubbed the French paradox. In this video, Harvard Medical School's Dr. Anthony Komaroff gives tips on how you can stay healthy by eating as the French do.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

The French consume more saturated fat than Americans and yet have a lower incidence of heart disease. This is referred to as the "French paradox." Many experts suspect that the French are less vulnerable to heart disease because they consume more red wine. Presumably, the protective effect is the result of the flavonoids in red wine, which protect against oxidative damage from LDL cholesterol. Grape juice also contains flavonoids and may offer similar protection. However, while some studies show benefit with grape juice, a recent study indicated that it did not provide the same level of support as red wine in protection against damage to LDL. In addition, the study showed that consumption of white wine actually increased LDL oxidation. Red wine contains single molecules of flavonoids, primarily quercetin. In contrast, grape juice flavonoids are usually complexed with other flavonoids and are bound to various sugars that may reduce their bioavailability. Also, the flavonoid content in white wine is significantly lower than that in red wine. The bottom line is that for women, one glass, and for men, one or two glasses, of red wine per day appears to be a good prescription for a healthy heart.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.