Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The French Paradox

Would you believe that the Frenchman, who has his "petit café et croissants" each day, is less likely to suffer from coronary disease or to be obese compared to the average American? Although the French consume a diet which is relatively high in saturated fat, french women not only are more chic but studies indicate that they are also slimmer and healthier. This is termed as the French Paradox. How is that those who eat bérnaise sauce, boeuf bourginon, macaroons, quiche or any of those delicious French "gourmandise" can still be healthy?

For those who are interested in weight loss and a healthy diet, we are actually able to learn from the Frenchman's diet and way of eating. Although they may have an indulgent palette, the French are particular about their portion sizes. Studies also indicate that they get a lot more incidental exercise (eg. walking to the shops, going up and down stairs, bike riding to work) compared to the average Western individual. Another contributing factor, may be that the French regularly drink small glasses of red wine which is good for a healthy heart. The final secret in this paradox is that French people get up to 80% of their fat intake from diary or even vegetable sources including milk, cheese and yoghurt. They have fish (full of good fats) and also a low incidence of snacking in between meals. Those delicious 3 course lunches clearly keep them content till dinner when they then nibble on some bread, a salad or light soup.

So, next time you deny yourself that glass of red wine or slice of chocolate torte....remember the French paradox. It's okay to indulge every now and then, or even quite regularly like the French, as long as you watch your portion sizes and remember that it's rather healthy to "mange un peu de tout" (a bit of everything).

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