The French Paradox



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The Good Fats and Oils – The French Paradox

Most people will still tell you today that saturated fats are bad for you – they make you gain weight and are bad for your heart, they say.  However, you may have heard of how the French eat lots of saturated fats in the form of cheese, butter, cream, eggs, liver, meat and rich pates and sauces.  According to a New York Times article by Molly O’Neill, the rate of heart disease in France is about that of Americans:  315 out of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks in America each year – in France, only 145 per 100,000.  These foods are perhaps not coincidentally all rich in vitamin A.

Gascony:  High Saturated Fat & Fat-Soluble Vitamins in Diet; Low Heart Disease

Further, in the Gascony region of France, where high amounts of goose and duck liver and fat are consumed, rich in vitamin A, the rate is 80 per 100,000.  This, despite the fact that, according to a study by Dr. Serge Reynaud, the people of Gascony eat more saturated fat than any other group of people in the industrialized world!  A paradox, or are the “saturated fat is bad” theories wrong?  We think the latter.

Heart Disease Rates

  • United States:  315 per 100,000
  • France:            145 per 100,000
  • Gascony*:         80 per 100,000

*In the Gascony region of France, the people eat more saturated fat than any other group of people in the industrialized world!

Traditional Fats and Blood Sugar

Many people have reported being better able to regulate their blood sugar with regular consumption of traditional fats that are rich in the fat soluble vitamins.  These include foods like full fat dairy – whole milk, whole milk yogurt, butter, & cream, eggs, beef and coconut oil.  Trans-fats can interfere with insulin receptors, so stay away from them if you want to keep your blood sugar levels normal.  Vitamin D, also found in saturated fats like butter, lard and cod liver oil, helps your body to adequately use insulin.  Regulating your blood sugar is not only important for preventing diabetes, but for all of us if we want to be healthy and of normal weight.

The Cholesterol Myth

More than 60% of heart attacks happen to people with normal blood cholesterol levels.  No study exists that demonstrates that high blood cholesterol causes heart disease.  In fact, many people who do not have high blood cholesterol die of heart disease every year.  For more info, see Eat Fat, Lose Fat, by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon and The Cholesterol Myths:  Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease by Uffe Ravnowskov, M.D. Ph.D.

Your body needs cholesterol for maintaining intestinal health, to make hormones, vitamin D & bile.  Cholesterol is also needed in order for the serotonin receptors in the brain to properly function.  So having enough cholesterol is important in keeping your mood up and your emotional health good.  Many food that are rich in the fat soluble vitamins A and D are also rich in cholesterol, like egg yolks, liver and shrimp.

Good & Bad Fats
Back to Saturated Fats

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