French paradox

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The French paradox has been a serious subject of discussion among health and weight loss experts. In spite of dining on some of the richest foods in the world, the French population as a whole is slim.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • One of the most popular theories behind the French paradox is that for the French most of the day’s food intake happens early, with meals becoming smaller as the day progresses. Still it’s astonishing that just 7 percent of French adults are obese.
  • French paradox is only a paradox if one assumes that dietary fat is the major cause of obesity and cardiovascular disease

All about French paradox

Most French, however, don’t accept the French paradox and maintain that the can control their weight only by watching portion sizes and daily fat intake. Choosing fresh foods over processed foods also go a long way in keeping them slim.

Though the French eat rich foods such as cream, butter, pastry and rich cheeses, they also consume red wine and olive oil. Researchers have found olive oil to be a heart-healthy source of fat. Hence it doesn’t properly explain the French paradox. Studies conducted on mice at Harvard Medical School have shown that a chemical in red wine called resveratrol reverses the coronary and obesity effects of a diet high in fat.

Benefits contained in red wine

According to some other research reports antioxidants called flavonoids, natural chemical compounds found in red wine, may confer important health benefits to the heart and blood vessels. Red grapes are one of the richest sources of flavonoids, which may make red wine more heart-healthy than white wine, beer, or other spirits.

Other research suggests that pigments in red wine called polyphenols are responsible for explaining the French paradox. Polyphenols, found in red grape skins, are believed to act as antioxidants, control blood pressure, and reduce blood clots. Some research indicates that red grape juice is markedly less potent than wine in conferring health benefits. Researchers suggest that something in the winemaking process changes the polyphenols' properties.

Complimentary elements

They also mix complimentary food elements and use a wide variety of ingredients that change with the seasons. High protein dishes are accompanied by generous salads and nutritious, easily assimilated soups are popular. Dried broad beans and chick peas are also part of winter staples, adding antioxidant beans and pulses to a wide diet.

What can I do?

To be as healthy as the French, we need to get back to the basics of eating with conscious awareness and mindfulness. To look and feel like the French, you may try the following:

  • Slow down at meal times. It takes the stomach at least 20 minutes to register a full signal in the brain.
  • Instead of wolfing down focus on chewing, using your utensils, and having a conversation with those around you.
  • Allow yourself to become hungry from time to time. Don’t eat by the clock.
  • If indulging in an occasional treat, watch portion size. Have a bite or two of cake instead of the entire piece.
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV. Mindlessly munching down foods will cause you to eat more.

90 degrees

Not all scientists believe in the French paradox. Some believe that it is a health myth caused by errors in health-data reporting on the incidence of heart disease in France. Also, some scientists argue that there is no scientific consensus over the protective effect of any alcoholic beverage on heart disease.


  • A New Clue to the "French Paradox"
  • What is the French Paradox?
  • The French Paradox Explained