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Resveratrol is one of the reasons behind the French Paradox

12 December, 2011

Think about your eating habits for a moment: What do you like to eat? When do you eat? With whom? How much do you eat? What do you drink to accompany your meals?   

Styles of eating and drinking are not universal. What we consume—and how—depends on our upbringing, our culture and our geography, and it can have a profound impact on our health. Despite knowing more than ever about health and nutrition, obesity, heart disease and type 2 Diabetes are epidemic in the United States.

But what about other countries whose palates seem equally “unhealthy”?

For almost 20 years, scientists have been studying the “French paradox.” The French paradox describes France’s cultural penchant for foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol--such as beef and full-fat dairy products like cheese, butter and cream—but without an expected parallel in high rates of heart disease and obesity. Just the opposite: data from the World Health Organization indicates that the rate of obesity among American adults is almost double that of their French counterparts. (Although childhood obesity is an increasingly alarming problem in France, as it is elsewhere in Europe and other industrialized nations like the United States and Canada.)

Although French people enjoy many of the same fat- and cholesterol-laden foods, how they are consumed is completely different from American-style meals:

  • The main meal in France is often taken in the middle of the day, while people are still active.
  • Portions are consistently smaller in France, so fewer calories are consumed overall.
  • Fresh vegetables are a constant accompaniment to meals.
  • Processed and convenience foods are used less frequently.

A noteworthy divergence between France and America is a marked difference in wine consumption. Wine is drunk frequently at the afternoon and evening meals in France. Red wine is noted for containing resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that, like the polyphenols in pomegranates, neutralizes free radicals. A daily dose of resveratrol in red wine may also contribute to the lower rates of heart disease in France.

Unfortunately, becoming French—or even adopting the French lifestyle—isn’t realistic for most Americans. But Americans can learn from French attitudes and customs regarding food and drink, especially the French love of fresh foods and use of smaller portion sizes. Red wine drinkers can enjoy this beverage in moderation--although resveratrol does appear in other plants. To boost the number of helpful and powerful antioxidants in your body, we’ve included resveratrol from the Japanese Knotweed plant (Polygonum cuspidatum) in Galilee Nutritionals Super Antioxidant Complex.

Wishing you the best of health!

 
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