08 Sep New study reaffirms the benefits of a Gascon Diet
Whilst doing the rounds this week I was reminded by a patient once more of the French Paradox. This is the fact that despite eating fatty food and drinking wine the French seem to have lower heart attack rates. He lived in Gascony. This area of South West France is blessed with long living and lower than average heart disease. The thinking behind this is partly diet, partly lifestyle. The particular aspects of diet here is one rich in duck fat (high in mono-unsaturates), legumes (beans) alongside red wines high in polyphenols (Madiran).
These thoughts made me reflect on the results of a large observational study including nearly 150,000 people which was recently published in the Lancet, the PURE study. It looked at how eating different amounts of fat, carbohydrate, fruits, vegetables and legumes influence survival. It was not a trial as such but gives an insight as to how diet may influence longevity. The study group found that high carbohydrate intake was potentially harmful as was a very low fat diet. The authors said the healthiest diet would be made up of 50 to 55 per cent carbohydrates and 35 per cent total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated types. They also found that legumes were linked to a reduced risk of overall mortality and mortality from non-cardiovascular issues. Legumes should definitely get more credit, the authors say — they’re great sources of protein, iron, vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. “Eating even one serving per day decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and death,”
Did we need such a study to remind us of some age old wisdom?
I really don’t know. It is certainly a useful reminder that however much dietary fads may come and go there is a lot to be learnt from parts of the world with traditional diets and long lives.
Long live the cassoulet!