What Is The French Paradox?

The French Paradox is one that has puzzled and eluded scientists for a long while now; How is it that the French, who have three times the amount of saturated fats in their diet as do Americans, are still only one third as likely to die from heart disease and obesity when compared to Americans!

French women personify slim chic and French men are lean and fit on the whole. The French are among the least obese western populations and it is positive wonder, why. Since croissants, French pastries, rich creamy cheeses, are a staple for the people;

one has to wonder that the general populace does not suffer from the obesity levels seen in other developed western nations.

Several theories have been put forward to explain the French Paradox:

Portion sizes

Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of controlling portions. It has been seen that fat intake per se is not the risk factor of obesity and obesity related diseases; rather it is the total calories consumed at a given time that is of more importance.

The French believe in portion control; and are often appalled at portion sizes that Americans routinely indulge in. Also the French tend to eat their meals course wisely; small portions eaten slowly over a longer time that makes one get full quicker and stay full longer.

Red Wine

The French drink a lot of red wine; it is a staple for a vast majority of the populace who drink it daily. Red wine is rich in Resveratrol which acts in a way that imitates calorie restriction in organisms.

It also helps people live longer it is believed; so another explanation for the French Paradox could be their habit of drinking a lot of red wine.


We all know the health benefits of eating fish which has good quality fats and is excellent intake for when one is on a diet. The fact that many French people have fish as often as 3 times a week, explains why they are more lean and trim.

Good quality fats

Olive oil is heart healthy oil which is popular in French cuisine. Also 80% of the source of fats in French cuisine comes from dairy or vegetable sources. Yoghurt, whole milk, cheese etc are the sources of fat for the French.

Lower Sugar/Snack intake

This may the key factor in the French Paradox, the fact that Americans, even when they have so called ‘low fat foods’ are still eating stuff that is really high in sugar.

Soda, deep fried items and snacks which are a staple for Americans are not so for the French. Also pre-prepared between meals snacks that Americans are used to are largely absent from the French way of life.