Is The French Paradox Real?

The French Paradox refers to the apparent contradiction that French people have fewer cases of and a lower death rate due to heart disease, but their diets are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Originally coined in the 1980s, scientists and physicians started researching the mortality rate from coronary heart disease (CHD) in Northern Europe compared to Southern European countries in the Mediterranean region. They began taking a close look at the diets in both areas.

A study completed in 1987 showed that for every 386,000 men in Finland who died from ischemic (restriction of blood to tissue) heart disease, only 144,000 men in Italy died. What is it about their diets that have such a significant impact on their health, and in particular, their cardiovascular health? Or are there other factors to look at, such as lifestyle, a potential error due to an underestimated CHD mortality, or the theory that the French have only recently started eating diets high in saturated fats and it takes time for chronic disease to develop?

There are several holes in the French Paradox idea, so let’s look at a few lifestyle habits that could influence the reason for healthy hearts but diets high in saturated fat.

Smaller Portions

Paul Rozin, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, led a study from 2003 that looked at the different portion sizes in France vs. the United States. In comparable restaurants and cookbooks, French portions were found to be smaller by an average of 25%. Not only were French portions smaller, but they also took longer to eat the food. This creates more of an experience surrounding the meal and gives the body time to fully digest. Even when diners had smaller portions, when the food was served over a prolonged period of time, they still felt equally satisfied.

Fresh Foods

An article from SFGate refers to a study that states that American adults eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than French adults. In a typical French dinner, they prioritize fruits and vegetables and develop a habit of fresh eating as children. How many of you remember hating broccoli as a child, or have kids who refuse to eat anything green? Many French families have their own vegetable gardens, making eating fresh foods a natural part of their lives, helping to significantly increase their health. On the other side of the ocean, Americans make it a habit of eating out at fast-food restaurants, consuming frozen meals high in sodium, and filling their plates with processed foods.


A study from 2010 looking at the difference in lifestyle in France compared to the United States states that the French spend 1.69% of the time walking compared with .63% for the Americans. Gas, or petrol, in France is more expensive than in the U.S., which often pushes them to walk to work or to get a cup of coffee rather than driving everywhere. Walking is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, rather than Americans who often get burnt out on extreme resolutions of going to the gym and completing high-intensity exercise programs that inevitably fail. Longer-lasting exercise plans, even when they contain simple activities like walking, can often be the best strategy.

Less Soda

The French commonly drink mineral water rather than sodas or other sugary drinks. When restaurants do serve soda, it’s typically a small amount, sometimes only five ounces, is generally just as expensive as ordering a glass of wine, and there are no free refills. In the U.S., a medium soda at McDonalds is 21 ounces, costs a little over a dollar, and customers can refill the cup as often as desired. As you can imagine, this habit adds a significant amount of sugar to the average American diet.

They Drink Wine

Wine has a significant part in the culture and history of France, making it a popular drink of choice for many people. There have been various studies showing that wine in moderation may help improve cardiovascular health due to a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol. Drinking wine, combined with other lifestyle factors, may help improve the health of French people even when they do consume foods that are high in saturated fat, like cheeses, pastries, cream-based sauces, and fatty meats. Americans do consume a good amount of red wine, but with other negative lifestyle choices, it may not provide as many benefits.

The French Paradox is still baffling many scientists and physicians, and experts continue to research the link between red wine and cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is a significant cause of death globally, and when the French are apparently healthier even with their diet, the link between red wine, as well as other lifestyle choices, is reason to take a closer look at the compounds in red wine.

Try a Resveratrol Supplement

Resveratrol is found in the skin and seeds of grapes and is a polyphenol with antioxidant properties. When plants are stressed, they produce this compound in order to protect themselves from harmful elements. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals and are known to reduce the effects of inflammation, which is often associated with heart disease.

If you’re at risk of heart disease or if you’re looking for a natural supplement to help improve health and wellbeing, a resveratrol supplement may provide a solution. vYv offers a resveratrol and CBD supplement to help boost antioxidant levels. A significant benefit of this supplement is that users don’t need to drink alcohol or fill up on grapes which contain a high amount of sugar, in order to experience the benefits that resveratrol offers. While this supplement isn’t an excuse to continue with poor eating habits or not having an exercise routine, a resveratrol supplement may help fill in any nutritional gaps.

The resveratrol supplement from vYv contains grape seed extract, which is high in resveratrol, Japanese Knotweed, and CBD isolate. Rather than drinking several glasses of red wine, a supplement will provide the same great benefits without the calories or sugar. Learn more about resveratrol and shop vYv for a natural supplement to help improve health and wellbeing.