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The American Paradox

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

Behind Our

Health Crisis

No one is talking about an "American (health) Paradox." Instead, the one most commonly noted is the "French Paradox."

The “French Paradox” is simply that 55 million people in France live much longer compared to Americans and have 1/3rd the heart disease yet they do just the opposite of what the American Heart Association says is “heart friendly.” Let’s explore what the French are doing to have healthy hearts and great longevity.

The French paradox[1], coined in the late 1980s, is the apparently paradoxical epidemiological observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. ([i])


[1]Paradox definition, a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

[i]Ferrieres, J. (2004). "The French Paradox; Lessons for other countries". Heart. 90 (1): 107–111. PMC 1768013 Freely accessible. PMID 14676260. doi:10.1136/heart.90.1.107.


France and the French Paradox

The French Paradox is actually easy for doctors who practice “root-cause” medicine to explain. We know that health is not one big thing; rather, it is the constellation of little things – the removal of one risk at a time. Creating health is like a symphony warming up. At first the sounds lack coordination and harmony, but slowly, over time the beauty that is the symphony is revealed. This applies equally as well to our bodies.

A paper titled, “Dietary patterns in the French adult population,” provides a credible summary of the many health-enhancing attributes of the French lifestyle. ([i]) Only about 13% of the French population, mostly younger people, subscribe to a SAD-like diet (Standard American Diet). Here are the attributes common to the other 87%:

  • Portion control / eating slowly

  • No fear of full fat

  • Little reliance on processed foods

  • Eat fish regularly

  • Imbibe wine modestly and regularly

  • Consume “healthy” fresh foods without preservatives

  • Snacks are much healthier compared to American counterparts

  • Basic foods are consistently consumed including: cheese, eggs, potatoes (with sauces including butter), butter, yogurt (full fat – not processed) and animal fat, organ meat, as well as bread. Note that dairy, eggs and organ meats are high in menaquinone (K2) that activates proteins to chelate calcium from soft tissue. ([ii])


[i]Gazan, R., Bechaux, C., Crepet, A., Sirot, V., Drouillet-Pinard, P., Dubuisson, C., & Havard, S. (2016). Dietary patterns in the French adult population: a study from the second French national cross-sectional dietary survey (INCA2)(2006–2007). British Journal of Nutrition, 116(2), 300-315.

[ii]Geleijnse, J. M., Vermeer, C., Grobbee, D. E., Schurgers, L. J., Knapen, M. H., Van Der Meer, I. M., ... & Witteman, J. C. (2004). Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. The Journal of nutrition, 134(11), 3100-3105.