Prepare to scratch your head in confusion as we consider the subject of geography for a moment.
In the U.K., the Brits’ high daily consumption of saturated and trans fats – chief suspects among risk factors for heart disease – is actually topped by those living in Germany, Belgium and France. Yet these three salami-eating countries boast fewer heart disease deaths than the U.K., according to the British Heart Foundation.
Even more confusing are the people of France. Although the French smoke more, eat more fat, and consume only slightly more fruit and vegetables than the British do, the French have the lowest heart death rate in the European Union – only about one-quarter of the British rate. This is the notorious “French Paradox“, which epidemiologists have puzzled over for decades.
Although French hearts appear to be the healthiest and best preserved in Europe, they are certainly among the worst on the risk factors of diet and smoking.
The Spaniards, Finns, Italians, and Portuguese all eat less harmful fat and consume more fruit and vegetables than the French – yet die in greater numbers from heart disease.