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Radio Shows | The French Paradox | mp3wmawav

So here's my take on the French paradox: it's unfair! They smoke, eat relatively high levels of saturated fat, and yet coronary heart disease is low in France!

That's why I'm going to start drinking lots of red wine Norbert. Well - at least that's the belief that the French love of red wine is behind this paradox.

Before we jump in Dave, let's see if red wine does protect you from heart disease. We know red wine contains polyphenolic compounds which have anti-oxidant effects that may reduce the development of hardened arteries. But it's unclear if the polyphenols in wine offer benefits beyond the alcohol in wine.

If you don't already know it, moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by thirty percent through raising the levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.

That means 2 drinks a day for men and one to two for women.

So do wine drinkers have an even greater benefit because of the polyphenols? While some large studies concluded yes, others found no difference between wine and beer drinkers.

If you looked at polyphenols on their own, specifically those found in grapes one of which is resveratrol, in studies, it reduces platelet aggregation. It's one of the first steps in the formation of a blood clot that can block an artery in the heart or brain resulting in a heart attack or stroke. But studies show you need a lot more resveratrol than humans can ingest orally for the benefits to show.

The bottom line is the exact benefits of pholyphenols and specifically resveratrol is still an open question. It does appear having a glass of red wine at dinner offers some protection from cardiovascular disease. Our advice for a healthy body: eat a balanced diet and exercise.

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The Pennington Center for Biomedical research in Baton Rouge Louisiana has a very nice publication that summarizes what is known about resveratrol.
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The Mayo Clinic website is an excellent source of information about a variety of health issues. They have an excellent and very readable web page about the effects of alcohol, red wine and resveratrol.
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The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University is dedicated to determining the function and role of vitamins and essential minerals and chemicals from plants in promoting optimum health and preventing and treating disease. They have an excellent web page providing detailed information about resveratrol and its putative health effects.
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A number of publications have sought to explain "the French Paradox" including:
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Very complete article with data and discussing the Paradox as well as various explanations can be read here.

A book written on the subject is reviewed here.

The American Chemical Society has a paper explaining some of the ingredients in wine that may contribute to the French Paradox.
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