It’s a well-known fact that the three secrets of great French cooking are: butter, butter and butter (thank you Catherine Zeta Jones in No Reservations) but, despite that, French people just don’t get that many heart attacks. Why is that, we wonder?
After my father – now 83 – had a triple heart by-pass 10 years ago (yes, he lives in France) he was sent courtesy of the French national healthcare system to a health farm. There, he was taught how to meditate, do basic stretching and how to just darn relax already. Then, his doctor instructed him to drink red wine with his meals, one glass per day. Still in fine fettle, he travels, gardens, does the long Times crossword every day and can still beat me into submission on the chessboard. His mind and his body are amazing for his age.
It’s true that red wine is a great heart stabilisier, but in many ways, do French people really even need that? New research says that butter is in fact good for you. It’s nutrient rich and helps to protect against cancer. Read Dr. Mercola’s article here for the full story.
But of course, nothing is that simple. Eating a varied and balanced diet is as ever the key, because many types of fat and oil are needed to promote optimum health. In fact, going back to the French Paradox, and according to Cliff Bore, writing in What Doctors Don’t Tell You, scorched fats are more likely to give you cancer than other types:
“I noted decades ago that researchers had divided France into two zones for bowel cancer: the high rate zone corresponded with the area that cooked largely with butter and the low rate zone was the one cooking with olive oil. More recently, I noted another epidemiological report that observed high rates of bowel cancer in a large region where cooking was done with ghee (clarified butter, or what I choose to call “overheated butter”).”
In the Chicago Tribune, Andrew Weil, author of many books and preventative health guru, also warns on the dangers of rancid fats:
“They’re carcinogenic, pro-inflammatory and very toxic, they are also widespread in the food chain.”
Oh, okay. Not burning butter or ghee, then.
So as you may know, I live in Japan, and the similarities between French women and Japanese women are that they are absolute SLAVES to their appearance (sorry, mum) and they are mostly quite slim. There are even a couple of books for sale that tell you how to eat like a Japanese or a French woman to avoid ever looking old or fat (see here and here for details). What’s interesting about the Japanese phenomenon is that before every meal, no matter how lowly or snack-like, Japanese people say: “itadakimasu”, which is a blessing for their food, with their hands together in prayer position. This chimes in with Pam Grout’s admonition in her book E2:
“Before you put anything into your body, send it loving thoughts, put your hands over it and give it a blessing. Concentrate on infusing your food with love, joy and peace.”
My feeling is that it’s not so much what you eat, it’s how you feel about eating it that dictates how good or bad it is for you. Feeling good about what you do to your body, and I mean really good, helps to keep you in great shape.
Ohio State researchers proved this. They cruelly fed rabbits high-fat diets (boo! boo!) just to see if it was really bad for you to eat nothing but crap all day every day (grrr…) and noticed that surprisingly one group of rabbits seemed to be doing really well but the other was doing really badly. It turned out that the group that was doing really well was being looked after by a lab technician who loved rabbits and was stroking them and hugging them as she fed them. Read an article about it here.
So there you have it, folks! Not only is butter good for you, but so are loving cuddles. Whether they are delivered at the same time is totally up to you.
And so, what do you think about the health risks or benefits of butter? What kind of fats do you eat and how do you feel it impacts on your health? Leave a comment and let everyone know.