Have you ever wondered why there are so many sexy, slim, young looking and stylish women and men in Paris despite the number of boulangeries, patisseries and fine restaurants? To some it is is called the French Paradox. French nutritionist Yves Calmette explains more about the theory of the French Paradox and 3 foods the French can’t live without…
The French Paradox is a well researched theory which refers to the low rate of modern lifestyle diseases in France, such as weight issues, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and allergies – despite the diet being rich in saturated fat and other supposedly harmful foods. Statistics reveal that 35% of the French population is considered obese or overweight compared to more than 65% of Americans or Australians.
Here are 3 of the most popular foods in France which you might be surprised to know are considered not just delicious, but healthy…
BUTTER, yes – but grass-fed. Butter, made of 40% saturated fat, can be considered as a super food I believe. In fact, animal saturated fats play an important role in the body’s chemistry. They enhance the immune system, protect our liver from alcohol, help retain omega 3 fatty acids, give our cells integrity and stiffness and are one of the preferred foods of the heart. As a very rich source of vitamin A and D, butter ensures proper assimilation of minerals and water-soluble vitamins in vegetables, grains and meat. It is essential for growth, healthy bones, proper development of the brain and nervous systems and for normal sexual development.
Choose wisely: only the best. From pasture-fed cows, local and organic. Avoid butter substitutes such as margarine which are highly charged in trans fats and additives. Add organic butter to your diet and recipes, for your pleasure and good health.
WINE, yes – but red. Red wine contains fewer calories per volume than most alcoholic drinks, is full of nutrients and recognised to thin the blood. More importantly it is considered a heart healthy food as it is packed with phytonutrients, particularly flavonoids. These phytonutrients have powerful antioxidant qualities, which are anti-inflammatory agents that can protect the artery walls from free radicals.
The cardiologist, who coined the French Paradox term, reported that up to 2-3 glasses of red wine per day for men and up to 1-2 for women could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%. Other experts analysed the death rates associated with moderate intakes of wine, beer or spirits and found that wine increased longevity, while beer had no effect and spirits decreased longevity.
Choose wisely: RED wine only. Some studies report that white wines are as beneficial but experts remain divided on the facts. Preferably organic with little or no chemicals, in particular sulphites, the cause of many allergies. Always, always, always with food and always, always, always in moderation. Remember, the full taste of wine reveals itself only when paired with the right food, for maximum pleasure.
CHEESE, yes – but real. Real cheese is packed with calcium, protein, and rich in healing fats (the best coming from properly raised grass-fed animals) and, most importantly, is an excellent digestive aid. Fresh, unripenned cheese made from cultured dairy products is bursting with probiotic activity (good bacteria), keeping pathogens at bay, guarding against infectious illness, and aiding in the fullest possible digestion of all food we consume. “Perhaps this is why so many traditional societies value fermented milk products for their health promoting properties and insist on giving them to the sick, the aged and nursing mothers”, says nutrition researcher guru Sally Fallon.
Choose wisely: Look at the labels. If there are any ingredients other than milk, culture, rennin and salt, don’t buy it! Stay away from so-called low-cholesterol cheese made with vegetable oils and likely to contain trans fats. Processed cheese also should be avoided at all costs. They are everything bad, but cheese. Try to find organic cheese made with raw milk.
So now, prepare a nice plate with some Comte, Cantal and Roquefort. Add some butter to go with the Roquefort. Don’t forget a loaf of freshly baked wholemeal bread from your local boulangerie. Get a nice wine glass (not a fish bowl) and uncork a bottle of delicious Bordeaux or Cahors. Sit back. Close your eyes and feel like you’re in France…
Yves Calmette is a French born Australia-based nutrition coach, award-winning health promotion expert.