The “French paradox” is something that’s been recognized for a while now – that is, the French eat much more fat than we do, but weigh less and have lower rates of heart disease. It’s mentioned in the book In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan, which I just read this weekend. This is one that I may actually buy to keep for myself. There’s also an excellent post on it today at Get Fit Slowly, http://www.getfitslowly.com/2008/06/06/food-drink-and-decadence-how-the-french-stay-thin/
Part of the advice is to stay out of the center of the grocery store. The real food is usually located around the perimeter in the refrigerator cases. Another part is to read labels. If it has more than 5 ingredients, or any chemicals that you can’t pronounce, or high fructose corn syrup, don’t eat it.
There’s much more to it than that, of course. I definitely recommend Pollan’s book. He also wrote another book I enjoyed, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which takes a look at food production, organic farming, and the huge percentage of our food that comes from corn. Verrrrry interesting.