Explaining the French paradox

J R Soc Health. 1995 Aug;115(4):217-9. doi: 10.1177/146642409511500404.


The 'French paradox' refers to the very low incidence of and mortality rates from ischaemic heart disease in France despite the fact that saturated fat intakes, serum cholesterol, blood pressure and prevalence of smoking are no lower there than elsewhere. To some extent it is due to under-reporting, but this is not the whole explanation. The relative immunity of the French to ischaemic heart disease has been attributed to their high alcohol consumption and to their intake of antioxidant vitamins, both being supplied by wine. The custom of drinking wine with the meal may confer protection against some of the adverse effects of the food.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking* / epidemiology
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality
  • Myocardial Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Wine*


  • Cholesterol