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Which ingredient from French cuisine is good for our health?
Is it true that a diet that includes croissants, crepes, fondue, cheese and lots of delicious French wine, can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and contribute to better health?
Most people would immediately think that this is not possible. However, there seem to be fewer cases of cardiovascular morbidity in central Europe, and especially in France. It is known that the French cuisine is rich in fats, as the French use full fat dairy, and include a lot of cheese in their diet. Creme fraiche is found in french tarts and desserts, and wine is always accompanied by cheese. There are of course some regions in France where the Mediterranean diet is more prevalent, such as Marseilles and surrounding areas, as fishing is one of the main occupations of the inhabitants of this region. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that frequent consumption of fish contributes to the reduction of heart disease due to the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. In more central regions of France, however, as well as the north of France, consumption of seafood is limited.
For this reason, for the past few decades, scientists have tried to indicate the reasons why France has such low figures of heart disease cases. Many studies suggest that the low morbidity caused by heart disease is attributed to the consumption of red wine. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in very high concentration in red wine. More specifically, most red wines contain four times the amount of resveratrol than white wines, and there are no other foods that have such a high concentration of this antioxidant, which also has a potent anti-cancer effect. So, could it be that wine lowers our risk of heart disease? It seems odd, which is why scientists have called this the "French paradox".
It also could be that, besides the resveratrol, drinking good french wine helps us to feel relaxed, which in turn helps us manage stressful situations, which may lead to overall better health. As scientists often say, future research studies will respond to any unanswered questions.