Saturday, January 28, 2006


The Oscar paradox

You've heard of "the French paradox" -- the magical way in which the French can eat metric buttloads of cheese, gallons of cream sauces, cartloads of jiggling bulbs of fat (foie gras), rich pastries and other exceedingly rich and yummy foods without getting obese and having arteries and cholesterol levels that look like they've ordered everything off the "heart healthy" menu.

Explanations include the suggestion that properties of olive oil and red wine, which the French consume in significant quantities, somehow break down these fats.

juices_concordgrapejuice_displayMy just-released cholesterol numbers were "great!" in the words of my doctor, and I promptly celebrated by making myself a fried-egg-with-cheese-bacon-and-ham sandwich.

I'm not saying that I eat like Homer Simpson, but perhaps you're asking "what's his secret"? Current knowledge on the subject says that there is a triad of factors -- heredity, exercise and diet. Maybe I have good cholesterol genes and that dominates the other factors. Or maybe it's hockey.

But maybe -- just maybe -- it's my version of the French paradox. I don't like red wine that much -- it gives me a headache, and I'm such a lightweight that I start getting a buzz after one glass. But, I thought, maybe it's the red grape tannins, and maybe you can get that from Concord grape juice. I drink 12 to 16 ounces of Concord grape juice every day. Not medicinally -- I just love the stuff, and don't get tired of it for some reason.

If you decide to experiment with the Oscar paradox, may I suggest: don't get the sweetened stuff. Grape juice is naturally very sweet. Stay away from the corn syrup!

Studies show that it is only red wine, not the white, that produces this effect, which is essentially a difference in the skins of the grapes, or so I'm told. So if you have juice that has red grape skins in there or something, perhaps it does the same thing? Actually, I don't really know what I'm talking about, but good for you!
I wonder if there's something to the grape juice.

I dropped my LDL by about 15 points just by drinking a moderate amount of red wine (about a glass per night, with dinner. I love red wine, so it works out well.
It's not hereditary. It's the hockey. My cholesterol is OK, but after 6 months on Atkins, it was just over the border into the "high" range (getting off the Atkins diet of protein and fat lowered it back into the normal range again).

I haven't had any juice of any kind since I went on a counting calorie diet, prefering to eat my calories rather than drink them - I'm sticking to water for the most part.
I can't find the reference, but I recently read that French obesity levels are going up with an increase in American-style fast food cited as the culprit.

But I did find this article, which reports one study's findings that it's really just about serving size, and that dietary fat may not be the main contributor to obesity.

It seems to always come back to the calories.
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