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French paradox

The term 'French paradox' refers to the observation that while both the French and Americans have a diet high in saturated fats, smoke cigarettes and exercise little- which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease-the French have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than that of the Americans; 36% compared with 75%. The difference in risk has been attributed to the consumption of alcohol and, in particular, red wine. The French consume 60 L per capita of wine per year, while the Americans only consume 7.7 L per year.

Australians, who consume 18.1 L per capita of wine per year, have a risk of cardiovascular disease in between that of the French and the Americans. Recent research also suggests that the cardioprotective effects of wine are imparted by the alcohol component (approx 75% of the effects) and by the winespecific phenolic compounds and their polyphenolic forms (approx 25% of the effects).

* Reproduced with permission from Peter Svans

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