What about the ‘French paradox’?

The French consume at least the same amount of saturated fat as we do and possibly more, and yet their rate of heart disease is only 30 per cent of ours.

This fact puzzled the scientists, irritated the health information lobby and cheered up the gourmets for years. Then we got the good news. It was probably the wine, especially red wine that was protecting the French from heart problems. Then came the bad news. It seems that the protection is not from the alcohol in the wine but the actual grapes the wine is made from (sorry about that). Grapes produce a substance called resveratrol and in animal studies this has been shown to reduce blood fat and cholesterol levels. So you can forget the glass of wine and just have a bunch of grapes!

Onions and garlic, enjoyed by the French, also contain many organic sulphur compounds. The substances in garlic appear to work as a blood thinner in the same way as aspirin. The allicin in the garlic also seems to prevent cells taking up cholesterol and reduces its production in the liver.

The Eskimos

The Eskimos presented the scientists with another puzzle. They eat vast amounts of fat and yet they have an extremely low rate of heart disease. The fat they eat comes from fish which is known to be high in essential fatty acids, omega 3. These omega 3 oils have been found to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (fat stored in the body), decrease blood pressure, prevent blood clotting and raise HDL (the cholesterol remover).