Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Le French Connection

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Le French Connection

Article excerpt

For years, the French have mystified and fascinated researchers with their apparent ability to consume a diet rich in fat while evading heart disease. This phenomenon, known as the French Paradox, has been the subject of countless studies, not to mention the envy of the rest of the world. And although heart disease is the leading cause of death in France, that country's heart disease rate is still less than half that of America's.

Now two British researchers, Malcolm Law, M.D., and Nicholas Wald, M.D., are warning that it may be just a matter of time before the French catch up to the Americans and the British on that front. Their theory, published in the British Medical Journal (May 1999), is simple: Because the French have only recently started to consume the high-fat diet that Americans and Britons have indulged in for decades, they have yet to experience the full effects of cardiovascular disease on their population.

When we think of French cuisine, pate, fois gras and rich cheeses come to mind. But the reality is that the French ate significantly less fat than their Yank and Brit counterparts until the 1970s, when these foods became more commonplace. The British researchers theorize that because the effect of an increase in fat consumption could take at least 25 years to affect heart disease statistics, the French may now be on the brink of an epidemic.

Yet some researchers believe other features of the French diet may be protecting them against heart disease. Meir Stampfer, M.D., and Eric Rimm, M. …

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