FOOD EDUCATION

THE FRENCH PARADOX

The French paradox refers to the observation that while the French have a diet high in saturated fats they have a significantly lower risk of getting cardiovascular disease compare to other countries with similar diets, but no one knew why until In 1991 the so called Prof. Serge Renaud informed the public that moderate wine consumption may lower the risk of CHD, it was the first time that a reliable major news source had even suggested that there may be beneficial, rather than just harmful, effects of a beverage containing alcohol.

WINE>A symbol of fertility, immortality, and divinity, wine was the favored drink of choice across the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. Wine is mentioned frequently in biblical scriptures, this unique drink with mystical and spiritual importance throughout the history of human kind now is mentioned as an elixir of longevity and healthy life. This information immediately led a number of `scientists’ and `experts’ to attempt to explain the reported lower rates of CHD among the French by factors other than wine intake. It is evident from many consistent research studies that moderate drinkers, especially of wine, have lower rates of many diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease, and live longer but there are many factors to consider.wine-time

There’s long been discussion about the risks and rewards that drinking wine has on your health. So what’s true and what’s not? In reality ‘moderate’ drinking (one or two units a day) does seem to offer some protection against heart disease – but primarily for men aged over 40 and post-menopausal women (and only when consumption is limited to five units a week – that’s just two standard glasses of wine). There is little evidence that drinking wine or other alcohol will improve the health of younger people, who are less at risk of heart disease in the first place. Scientists have found that red wines have higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants and, in general, the darker the wine, the higher the antioxidant content – in tests, cabernet sauvignon grapes were shown to contain the most polyphenols followed by merlot, zinfandel, syrah and petit syrah.

In contrast to moderate drinking, heavy or binge drinking is associated with an increased for all diseases. Nine million people in England drink more than the recommended guidelines, binge drinking is especially harmful and can damage the brain. Regular heavy drinking is associated with a wide range of other health problems from liver disease to loss of libido, menstrual problems, nerve and muscle damage, and psychiatric problems, including clinical depression, as well as increased risk of accidents.

According to the British Heart Foundation, very low levels of alcohol consumption may have some protective effects on the heart for some people, but there are other ways to achieve this also, such as taking regular exercise, quitting smoking, following a healthy, balanced diet and addressing other risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

For most middle-aged and older adults, unless there are contraindications to alcohol, moderate wine drinking with the meal can be considered part of a `healthy lifestyle‘.

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