What is the ‘French paradox’?

Somebody casually mentioned the ‘French paradox’ during a wine conversation recently. Everybody seemed to know what he meant. Could you explain?

Yes. The ‘French paradox’ is a term coined in 1991, when research revealed the annoying fact that French people suffered far fewer incidents of heart disease than health-fixated Americans even though they ate huge amounts of rich, oily food and drank far more wine than Americans did.
Apparently the research showed that red wine was good for combating harmful cholesterol and that the use of olive oil was far healthier than the consumption of butter. The result astonished America. Sales of red wines increased by some 400 per cent, and some big producers even had to ration their customers. What the Americans failed to realise was that the French have always regarded food as part of elegant living, to be savoured in a leisurely way, whereas most Americans tend to regard it as fuel—to be gobbled on the run and in vast quantities. They still have one of the world’s highest incidences of heart disease.

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