The French Paradox and the Importance of Resveratrol
For decades Americans have watched from afar as the French have gorged themselves on meats, cheeses, and other saturated fats. Saturated fats can have awful effects on the cardiovascular system, but the French generally have spectacular cardiovascular health. This has lead to what is now called “The French Paradox.” How can the French remain so heart healthy while continually consuming the foods we’ve all come to know as harmful to the cardiovascular system? Their cardiovascular health is believed to be based off of one important nutrient that many of the French consume on a daily basis: resveratrol. Resveratrol can be found in wine, which has cultural significance in France, and it offers spectacular cardiovascular and anti-aging benefits.
Diet and French Culture
French cultural critic Roland Barthes discussed the importance of the French diet in a couple of essays in his famed work Mythologies, which was published in 1957. In his essay “Wine and Milk” Barthes wrote, “Wine is felt by the French nation to be a possession which is its very own, just like its three hundred and sixty types of cheese and its culture. It is a totem-drink, corresponding to the milk of the Dutch cow or the tea ceremonially taken by the British Royal Family.” As we can see in this passage wine is an important drink to the French, and it has been steeped in their culture. This passage also shows the French Paradox in full effect, because it also notes the importance of cheese in French culture. In another essay, “Steak and Chips,” Barthes wrote, “Steak is part of the same sanguine mythology as wine. It is the heart of the meat, it is meat in its pure state; and whoever partakes of it assimilates bull-like strength.” The importance of these foods that are high in saturated fats to French culture cannot be disputed, but their negative health effects are offset by the cultural importance – and high consumption – of wine.
Saturated fats can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system, and they are commonly found in many of the foods consumed by Americans – and even more so by the French. Cheese, steak, and butter are common sources for saturated fats, but they can also be found in some plant-based foods, like coconut oil. Diets high in saturated fats can quickly lead to high cholesterol, because saturated fats can increase LDL levels. LDL is bad cholesterol, and it distributes plaque throughout the cardiovascular system. This plaque can buildup within the arteries and create blockages, and this can increase the chances of heart attack or stroke.
Saturated fats are also found in:
- Dairy Products
- Palm Oil
The Importance of Resveratrol
The French Paradox is most likely explained by their high intake of resveratrol. As Barthes stated wine is one of the most important drinks in French culture, and it is a good source of resveratrol. Resveratrol can be great for the heart and cardiovascular system, but consuming it through wine can lead to a number of other problems, including liver damage. Supplementing with resveratrol is a great alternative, and DC Labs and DaVinci Labs both offer wonderful resveratrol supplements.
Resveratrol works in the cardiovascular system in numerous ways. It may help to reduce cholesterol levels. It also helps to keep the arteries from constricting, and it may also allow the blood to properly flow by helping to reduce platelet aggregation. Studies published in “Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease” showed that resveratrol helped to improve flow mediated dilation. This is important, because flow mediated dilation is used to determine blood vessel function and health.
Resveratrol may also help to fight the signs of aging, because it is an antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which can cause the skin to look older and cause cancer. Free radicals are created within the body through oxidation, and they attack healthy cells within the body. They can kill and damage cells by altering their DNA, and this can cause extreme harm to the body. This makes resveratrol beneficial not only for the cardiovascular system, but also to cellular health.
The French have historically consumed large amounts of saturated fats. Their love of cheese and steak would lead many to believe that the French would generally have poor cardiovascular health. However, the cultural importance of wine has lead to consumption of the super-beneficial resveratrol. Resveratrol is great for the cardiovascular system, and two of the best sources for resveratrol are DC Labs Red Wine Complex and DaVinci Labs Resveratrol-50.