The Great French Cheese Paradox

Grace Higgins | January 31st, 2020

For generations, people have wondered how the French stay so thin, sure obesity levels have been rising, much like the rest of the world. But in French, an estimated 11% of the adult population is considered obese, compared to 25% in the UK or 35% in the United States of America. So how in the world are the French surviving off a fat-heavy diet of cheese, bread and red wine but managing their weight correctly?

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Scientists may have cracked the great French cheese paradox following new research that seems to indicate that intense cheese-eating does not increase the weight or make you fat. The quick summary is that cheese may alter your gut bacteria to the point that it encourages weight loss and even improves your overall metabolism.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and it paints a new picture on cheese-eating. Such a strange revelation when you think that many people believe eating foods so high in fat is as bad to your health as smoking. Many leading experts have warned that cheese is fast becoming America’s leading source of saturated fat, and physicians categorically say that our diets should cut down on fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

So how in the world is regular Camembert and Brie consumption keeping the French so healthy, why are they all not suffering from cardiovascular diseases, those are the questions these researchers set out to answer. And they did, the Danish scientists from the University of Copenhagen discovered that heavy cheese eaters had a higher level of a compound called Butyrate in their gut bacteria.

Butyrate is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid which with high levels has been proven to reduce cholesterol absorption and improve metabolism. This means that Butyrate helps reduce obesity. Of course, researchers were quick to point out the study size was quite small so it may not be the answer. Still, if you are looking to stay healthy, maybe it is time to pour yourself a glass of red wine and cut a piece of that blue cheese for your crackers.

Perhaps, more importantly, it has been noted many times that the French do understand the importance of a balanced diet, and this may be the biggest key for combating obesity levels.

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