The French Paradox, the claim the French lived longer than Americans because they drink more red wine was put forward by Dr Serge Renaud in the 1990’s. He said red wine had nutrients like resveratrol which helped reduce heart disease. Even though the French had more dairy products like cheese, in their diet
This claim has since been debunked because you would have to drink so much red wine to get enough of these nutrients, to increase the risk of other diseases like cirrhosis. The research did highlight the presence of vitamin K2 in the French diet. Vitamin K2 is a known factor in reduced levels of heart disease. The vitamin is to be found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products.
The French diet is rich in vitamin K2
In her 2012 book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, Canadian nutritionist Kate Rhéume-Bleue proposes that the explanation for the lower rate of cardiovascular disease in France is the high level of vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) in some of the fattier foods that form a part of the French diet. Lack of vitamin K2 in the diet is linked to increased calcification of plaques in artery walls.
|“||The French Paradox isn’t a paradox at all. The very same pâté de foie gras, egg yolks and creamy, buttery sauces that we inaccurately labeled “heart attack on a plate“ literally supply the single most important nutrient to protect heart health.||”|
As one example, Rhéume-Bleue points to the fact that a 3 ½-ounce serving of goose liver pate contains 369 micrograms of menaquinone, while a 3 ½-ounce serving of pan-fried calf liver of the kind frequently eaten in North America contains only 6 micrograms of menaquinone.
The French diet is rich in short-chain saturated fatty acids and poor in trans fats
In his 2009 book Cholesterol and The French Paradox, Frank Cooper argues that the French paradox is due to the lack of hydrogenated and trans fats in the French diet. The French diet is based on natural saturated fats such as butter, cheese and cream that the human body finds easy to metabolize, because they are rich in shorter saturated fatty acids ranging from the 4-carbon butyric acid to the 16-carbon palmitic acid. But the American diet includes greater amounts saturated fats made via hydrogenating vegetable oils which include longer 18- and 20-carbon fatty acids. In addition, these hydrogenated fats include small quantities of trans fats which may have associated health risks.