French people eat about four times as much butter per person as Americans. This is part of a phenomenon known as the French paradox, in which French people tend to have a diet that is high in saturated fat but have a significantly lower incidence of heart disease than people in other countries, particularly the United States. This might be because French people tend to eat more fat from animal sources — three times that of Americans — than from vegetable sources.
More on the French paradox:
- Another factor in the French paradox might be that French meal portions are typically much smaller than American servings. The serving size of food in American fast food restaurants typically is about 25 percent larger than the serving size in French restaurants.
- Some people theorize that the French paradox works because of the way French people tend to drink wine with meals, the practice of eating mindfully, the relatively high amount of olive oil in the French diet, the use of garlic or onions in the French diet or even the consumption of foie gras, a specially prepared duck or goose liver. There is no conclusive evidence for any one theory, though.
- Besides eating more butter, French people also eat about three times the pork that Americans do and more than half again the amount of cheese.