The French Paradox
People nowadays are more aware about their health and wellness and consciously attempt to look alter themselves better. We are gradually realizing that getting that perfect shape Is not as important as being healthy and free of diseases. But thanks to the availability of f atty/ sodium processed junk food, the rate of obesity among youngsters s rising at an alarming rate. Diseases we never knew existed, are today becoming a trend. One in four individuals is obese and this is the beginning of many other diseases like diabetes, coronary heart diseases and hypertension, to highlight a few.
Research is constantly being done at the international level to identify the rate at which a particular disease spreads and its prevalence. For example, countries across the world estimate the prevalence and rate of a disease and then compare the same in another country to determine in which country that particular disease is more prevalent. Once they find out that a particular country faces the issue of being the country with the highest number of diabetics/ obese individuals, there is deductive or inductive reasoning to find out causes and the government then acts accordingly to chart certain programs to improve the conditions of many.
In the late 1980s, French epidemiologists introduced the term, ‘French Paradox,’ an observation of low coronary heart disease death rate despite the high consumption of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. We all are aware that the over consumption of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats present in egg yolk, cheese, meat and meat products, butter, ghee etc. do not just lead to obesity but also lead to the accumulation of cholesterol and saturated fat in the lining of the blood vessels. Over consumption can further lead to blocks in the entire blood vessel. A rupture of this plaque or mass of fat would further lead to coronary artery diseases or in worst cases a heart attack!
Paradoxically, it was observed that the French consume 108 grams of tat from animal sources per day as opposed to 72 grams by Americans. They eat tour times as much butter and 60 per cent more cheese and approximately thrice the pork as consumed by the Americans. And yet. the death rate from coronary heart diseases in males of America was 115 individuals per 1,00,000 people as opposed to only 83 per 1,00,000 in France.
Some believe that this entire paradox may be false, probably because of an under estimation of death rates from coronary heart diseases. But many believe that although the French follow a dietary pattern that is relatively high in saturated fats, their overall dietary habits are quite Mediterranean in origin, which could be the reason for their healthy hearts.
“Though the French follow a dietary pattern that is relatively high in saturated fats, their overall dietary habits are quite Mediterranean in reason for their healthy hearts”
The Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet emphasizes on the consumption of omega 3 oils, antioxidants and moderate consumption of red wine. Consumption of these help lower the risk of heart attacks and other heart related diseases by reducing bad cholesterol levels and improving good cholesterol levels.
- Omega 3 Fats : Oily fish , eaten two or three times per week such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, kippers and fresh tuna helps prevent blood clots and subsequent inflammation.
- Antioxidants : The French consume a variety of raw or sautéed fruits and vegetables and their proportion is comparatively larger than what we eat. Fruits and vegetables are packed with B-carotene, vitamins and minerals and soluble fibre which remove bad cholesterol from the body.
- Red Wine : Red wine contains ‘resveratrol’, a flavonoid which not only acts as an antioxidant but also gradually improves good cholesterol levels. However, it is important to realize that all forms of alcohol have a deteriorating effect on health, hence there is a special emphasis on the word moderate consumption’ of red wine which equals to not more than 30-60 ml per week.
Recent research, however, has shown that there is an increase In obesity in France and studies to find out the current incidence of coronary heart diseases is underway. The bottom line, Is to always follow a dietary pattern that is balanced and which includes variety. Above all, with the awareness of the foods and the way they affect us, it is important that we make an informed choice than be self-inflicted victims of lifestyle diseases in the long run.