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Report: Low-fat diet, not wine, fights heart disease in France

graphic

May 28, 1999
Web posted at: 4:48 p.m. EDT (2048 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- British researchers are disputing the notion that France's low death rate from heart disease is linked to its high consumption of red wine.

A report in the British Medical Journal suggests the country's good health has more to do with a diet low in animal fat and cholesterol over a long time.

Dr. Malcolm Law and Nicholas Wald at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London said residents of France did not eat a lot of saturated fat until the 1970s. They said there is a "time lag" for the occurrence of heart disease to catch up with rates found in other industrailized countries.

"The French eat it now, but we're saying you have to eat it for a very long time," Law said.

He said while moderate wine drinking is beneficial to health, other factors such as exercising and not smoking are key in preventing heart disease.

The report compared animal fat, cholesterol and alcohol levels and the number of male deaths in 20 industralized countries.

Finland had the highest rates of saturated fat consumption and heart disease deaths. Japan and France were among the lowest in deaths and fat intake.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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