We all enjoy indulging in hearty aperitifs with cold meats and cheeses. We have all experienced indulging in gargantuan dishes and fine wines. But was it truly healthy? There is no doubt that overeating and alcohol are not the best recipe for good health! And yet, that is the French paradox... Their consumption of fats and wine is said to keep them relatively healthy while protecting them from cardiovascular disease. But what is the reality?

Good fats on the plate

The 'French paradox' is a phenomenon theorized by Jacques L. Richard, François Cambien, and Pierre Ducimetière after comparing levels of cardiovascular disease and fat consumption in France. It is believed that the fats consumed in France are of better quality than those consumed on the other side of the Atlantic. One region in particular that was studied by these epidemiologists is the south-west.

World-famous for its duck production and consumption, the south-west of France has only 80 heart attacks per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 315 in the United States. The region's culinary heritage includes a significant intake of fats, with the consumption of duck, foie gras, and alcohol being prominent. Surprisingly, the explanation for this lower incidence of heart attacks lies in the high intake of cholesterol... but the good kind! In fact, the region's diet rich in poultry repairs and oily fish, such as trout, beloved by the Occitan people, contains large quantities of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein), which protects the cardiovascular system.

On the other hand, the consumption of bad cholesterol found in sweet products and butter is relatively lower. Perigord salad, duck confit, and duck breast, all of which are part of the culinary repertoire, have shown positive effects on heart health. Therefore, it's time to revisit Luana's famous recipes and enjoy the heart-healthy benefits they offer.

Duck breast Luana cuisine
Duck breast Luana cuisine

Wine? A French paradox

Who hasn't heard during a family meal that a glass of wine a day is good for your health? It is often said that moderate wine consumption can even help us stay away from the doctor. Once again, this is referred to as the French paradox.

Yes, wine has a special place in the hearts of the French. So special, in fact, that it is one of the few alcoholic beverages to be tolerated in the workplace. This is hardly surprising, given that France is the second-largest wine-consuming country in the world behind the United States. More than 3.5 billion bottles of wine are drunk in France every year ! With an average of 40 litres per person...

The good reputation of wine is partially due to its composition, as it is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in grape skins. However, recent studies have indicated that even when consumed in moderation, wine is still considered a non-essential alcoholic beverage that can potentially be harmful to the body. These findings further highlight the complexity of the French paradox.

Butter or olive oil?

Butter or olive oil?
Butter or olive oil?

As mentioned previously, butter is known for being rich in bad cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. In contrast, olive oil is abundant in unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the proper functioning of the body.

At the mention of these words, we are once again immersed in the eternal refrain and ongoing debates between "langue d'oc" and "langue d'oïl": Butter or olive oil? When it comes to health, the answer is clear. Opting for olive oil significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease compared to its traditional rival, butter. Although olive oil consumption in France (3.5 liters per capita per year) is relatively modest compared to Greece (23 liters per capita per year), it is still widely used in the south of France. All the more reason to choose olive oil as the preferred seasoning for a healthy diet!

Indeed, it all comes down to finding the right balance! The key is to consume food in a sensible and responsible manner. A healthy diet consists of a well-rounded combination of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, fiber, and vitamins. Fortunately, France's diverse landscapes offer a wealth of ingredients to support this healthy eating approach.

Yes, enjoying a balanced diet is essential. And if you feel like you've indulged a bit too much, don't hesitate to take a leisurely walk after your meal to support digestion and maintain your overall well-being.

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