The French paradox is the observation that while the French have a diet high in saturated fats, their cardiovascular health is much better than other countries' populations with similar diets.
Many agree this is due to high levels of two antioxidant compounds, resveratrol and oligomeric proanthocyanidins – known as OPCs – found in red wine.
These antioxidants have the ability to protect many cell types from free radical damage.
Free radicals are a completely normal byproduct of our energy systems. You cannot run a car engine without exhaust gases; likewise, you cannot make energy without producing free radicals.
Almost every chronic disease is directly or indirectly affected by oxidative stress – the term scientists use to refer to the damage caused by free radicals. While some antioxidants can only protect certain cells, OPCs protect against a wide range of free radicals.
They offer excellent protection to blood vessel walls, making them important supplements for those with hypertension and coronary artery disease. They are excellent for joints because they help reduce cartilage damage, by protecting the specialised cells that maintain cartilage.
The real formulation skill comes from combining classes of these antioxidants in quantities that will translate to real health benefits. I use it as nutritional support for hypertension, poor circulation and general cardiovascular health. It is excellent for respiratory health and is effective at supporting joint health. Look for products that use the synergy of OPCs with resveratrol and Acai extracts.
OPC quality varies greatly. Some are extracted using toxic solvents, while others contain lower concentrations of the active ingredients. My favourite is ActiVin. I've used this in my antioxidant formulas for nearly 20 years. ActiVin is so effective I attribute many client benefits to this potent compound.
John Arts is a qualified nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. Contact John on 0800 423 559. To read more, see: www.sunlive.co.nz