Know your olive oil! Olive oil for Indian cooking?

Olives in olive oil
Olives in olive oil

Olive oil is actually the juice of the olive, and it is the only oil in the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit. Of course, we’ve all read about the benefits of olive oil, and what it can do to our skin and hair.

But do we really know how to use this oil for everyday cooking, more importantly, which grade of oil to use? 

Perhaps not, which is why even though many in the world have switched to olive oil, we’re still unsure about its usage.

Time to get educated, then… To begin with, here’s bursting the most famous olive oil myth in India: We should use Extra Virgin (EV) olive oil because it is the best!

Extra virgin olive oil: 
It is the highest grade olive oil with perfect aroma and flavour. EV oil is got from the first cold pressing of the olive  fruit within 24 hours of harvesting. It is heavy, and its viscosity is higher than other grades of olive oil and therefore, it is mainly use is for preparing cold dishes: dressing salads, pasta, rice and vegetables, meat and fish. 

Olive oil: 
This variety is a combination of refined olive oil and EV olive oil. Refined olive oil is obtained by refining oil that does not possess optimum characteristics. After refining, the oil is blended with EV oilive ol. Olive oil is an intermediate grade oil at the best. Well, not really. At least, not for preparing Indian dishes. EV olive oil may be best in flavour, but its flavour is so strong that it can change the taste of the dish! Also, deep-frying in EV olive oil is not advisable as it is heavy and viscous as compared to other grades of olive oil. Therefore, EV olive oil is suitable for only flavouring, dressings and condiments or for integrating foods – like making cold sauces, crushing ingredients and preparing Carpaccio or marinated dishes. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin-production to give taste.

So then, what is the best option? Olive pomace oil. It is the cooking grade oil, and is used all over Italy, Spain and the Mediterranean for every type of cooking. Pomace oil is not costly, is light and has neutral with medium aroma and flavour, suitable for pan and deep frying, stir-fries, sautes and stews. It is also suitable for all types of body massage. 

Olive pomace oil: 
This is the main cooking grade oil variety. It is a light oil with neutral taste and flavour and is the most suitable oil for Indian cuisine as it does not change the flavour or taste of any preparation. This oil is obtained by treating the olive residue paste (after the fruit has been pressed) with solvents to extract oil, refining and then blending this product with EV oil in order to enhance the product and its health benefits, taste and flavour.

And, this oil is ideal for cooking all types and varieties of Indian dishes. It neither changes the taste nor presents any difficulties while cooking. Indian cuisine, whether fried, roasted, ‘bhunoed’ or cooked by any other method, tastes as good with Olive Pomace oil as it does when prepared in sunflower, safflower, corn or any other oil. Also, when frying at between 130 and 190 o C, olive oil forms a crisp, golden crust making the fried food much more appetizing but without affecting its nutritional value, as the oil hardly penetrates the food, leaving it light and digestible. Each portion of this oil used for deep frying may be reused 3-4 times as long as it is filtered carefully after each use through a gauze, muslin or a suitable paper filter. 

And this one’s for those who think the oil is really costly: Yes, any grade of olive oil costs more than other edible oils. But look at it this way: It takes only 1/3rd the quantity of other edible oils to cook in olive oil, and since it has a high smoking point, it can be reused 3-4 times. Therefore, the effective cost of olive oil is 1/9th of its actual price!

Know your olive oil – The Times of India.

Which diet is best?

Obese and overweight people tend to struggle with weigh loss and so try out different types of diet after consulting their friends and relatives.

Some of these diets are successful while some fail miserably. Till now the conventional wisdom suggests that the best diets which work are low carbohydrate diets.

So, Which is the best diet?

An recent meta-analysis was published in the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) in sept 3, 2014 issue.  The authors studied 48 trials studying different types of diets. Diets were classified into Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate diets. Patients on Diets were compared to patients on no diet. The followup was done for a duration of 1 year.

Evidence showed that

1. Both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets were associated with an estimated 8-kg weight loss at 6-month follow-up compared with no diet.

2. Approximately 1 to 2 kg of this effect was lost by 12-month follow-up. 

3. No specific diet was found to be superior over other diets.

All Diets Can Work, provided you adhere to them.

Before anyone switches to a new low-carb or low-fat diet, it is important to remember that all diets can work in the short run. However, most diets fail in the long run.

Sticking with a diet is far more important than the type of diet (low-carb or low-fat)!

ESH/ESC publish hypertension guidelines: Lifestyle changes reduce BP!

The European Society of Cardiology and the European Society of Hypertension released Guidelines for Physicians to treat Hypertension (high BP). The joint guidelines are designed to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with hypertension.

Worldwide, 1.5 billion people currently have high blood pressure, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr Robert Fagard, the chair of the ESH/ESC writing committee, reiterated that treatment decisions for patients should be dictated by their overall level of risk and a holistic approach to treatment should be advised by physicians.


Lifestyle changes for treatment!.


The new guidelines make a host of lifestyle recommendations for lowering blood pressure.

1. Salt intake:  The Guidelines recommend salt intake of approximately 5 to 6 g per day, in contrast with a typical intake of 9 to 12 g per day. A reduction to 5 g per day can decrease systolic blood pressure about 1 to 2 mm Hg in normotensive individuals and 4 to 5 mm Hg in hypertensive patients.

2. Lower BMI:  While the optimal body-mass index (BMI) is not known, the guidelines recommend getting BMIs down to 25 kg/m2 and reducing waist circumferences to <102 cm in men and <88 cm in women. Losing about 5 kg can reduce systolic blood pressure by as much as 4 mm Hg.

3. Exercise: Aerobic endurance training in hypertensive patients can reduce systolic blood pressure by 7 mm Hg.


Fagard said that physicians can typically give low/moderate-risk individuals a few months with lifestyle changes to determine whether they’re having an impact on blood pressure. They should be more aggressive with higher-risk patients, however, noting that drug therapy is started typically within a few weeks if diet and exercise are ineffective.


via ESH/ESC publish hypertension guidelines |

Four Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Lower Risk of Death.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, one that includes not smoking, eating right, daily physical activity, and a healthy weight, is associated with a low incidence of calcium in the coronary arteries, as well as a slower progression of coronary artery calcium as measured over a three-year period, according to the results of a new study.

This study was published online June 4, 2013 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

This is the first study to look at biological progression every step of the way in a single longitudinal fashion.

The study included 6229 US adults aged 44 to 84 years old. All patients were given a lifestyle score, ranging from 0 to 4, based on whether or not they followed

1. a Mediterranean-style diet,

2. their exercise habits (achieving 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week),

3. body-mass index (BMI), and

4. smoking status.

One point was awarded for each healthy lifestyle behavior. The patients also underwent coronary artery calcium screening at baseline and a follow-up scan was performed 3.1 years later.


Overall, just 2% of the participants met all four healthy-lifestyle criteria!

The median annual progression in coronary artery calcium for individuals with a score 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 was 25 Agatston points/year, 20 points/year, 18 points/year, 18 points/year, and 14 points/year, respectively.

Lower Risk of Death

Clinically, a healthier lifestyle also translated into a significant reduction in all-cause mortality and a trend toward lower coronary heart disease risk over a seven-year follow-up period.

Individuals who adopted all four healthy behaviors had an approximate 80% lower risk of death than those with no healthy behaviors.


“The benefits were cumulative, meaning the more healthy behaviors, the better,” commented Ahmed, one of the investigators. “So if you maintained a normal weight and ate healthy but weren’t exercising, this shows you can still have even more benefit from adding exercise to your life.”

Of the behaviors investigated, however, smoking was the most devastating. “In fact, if you exercised, ate healthily, and maintained normal weight, but smoked, you still were worse off than people who did nothing else right but stayed away from cigarettes. This really highlighted how important it is to stay away from smoking. It is probably singlehandedly the best thing you can do for your cardiovascular and overall health.”

You can’t pick your family history or change your age, but you can start exercising today, and you can start changing your diet today. All these interventions are things that cost us very little to nothing and are 100% in our hands. With these we have the ability to control our own wellness and health.

via Four Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Lower Risk of Death.

Don’t Gain Weight on Vacation This Year – some tips!

When you’re on vacation, it’s all too easy to abandon everything you know about eating healthfully — and then return home unable to button your pants!

Here are some tips to avoid putting on those extra pounds!

So before you order that extra pina colada at the swim-up bar, consider these simple strategies to avoid vacation weight gain:

Vacation Tip No. 1: Plan Ahead to Fit in Fitness/ go walking!

Opt for locations that will allow you to engage in physical activities you enjoy. Keep in mind that physical activity is the ticket to enjoying extra calories without weight gain.

If running is not your style, consider places where you can take walks or hikes, ride bikes, do water sports, or use the hotel tennis courts or gym.

Without work schedules making demands on your time, you should be able to fit in fun fitness activities every day.  Walk the golf course, play basketball, swim, walk, kayak, bicycle, play tennis — you name it, just do it for at least an hour each day.

Vacation Tip No. 2: Be Prepared

When you travel, whether by plane, train, or automobile, be prepared with healthy food so you won’t have to eat whatever is available.

Start the day with a nutritious breakfast, then pack easy and satisfying snacks or a small meal, such as a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole-grain bread, a piece of fruit, and some cut-up veggies with hummus.

Vacation Tip No. 3: Avoid Dining-Out Disasters

Eating out may pose the biggest challenge for avoiding vacation weight gain.

The key is to order simply prepared foods, such as baked, broiled. or grilled meats and fish.

Stay away from fried, crispy, or creamy foods; hold extras such as cheese and mayo; top salads with low-fat dressings; drink water instead of sodas — simple things that can shave calories and make room for the special treats.

You can snack on healthy, shelf-stable foods like:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Trail mix
  • Cereal
  • Dried fruit
  • Low-fat crackers.
  • Single-serve containers of fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Granola or cereal bars
  • Rice or popcorn cakes
  • Graham crackers

Vacation Tip No. 4: Indulge in Moderation/ Pare Down Portions

Have one scoop of ice cream instead of the sundae, or split that decadent dessert with a dining companion.

When you drink alcohol, the calories add up fast, especially if you are downing those fancy drinks that come with an umbrella. So make a plan for when you’ll drink alcoholic beverages and how much you will consume.

Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic, noncalorie beverages, so you’ll stay well-hydrated and reduce your total calorie intake. And when ordering alcoholic drinks, opt for lower-calorie choices such as light beer, wine spritzers, wine, champagne, or spirits mixed with water or diet mixes.

“Enjoy small portions of whatever you like, [and] eat slowly so you taste the food and feel a sense of satisfaction, enjoyment, and relaxation of the vacation,”

Don’t keep lingering around the table as that can lead to overeating.


Sounds Easy? Doesn’t it?

via Don’t Gain Weight on Vacation This Year – 5 Tips.

How To Lose weight?


Losing weight can be difficult but very much possible.

One needs to put in effort to ensure that unnecessary snacking is avoided. Eating the right foods and sticking to plan will ensure success. Regular exercising will also aid in reducing the weight.

Some easy steps!

1. Reduce your caloric intake.  Start with reducing intake of beverages like tea, coffee, aerated drinks etc. Stop or drastically reduce the intake of red meat and deep-fried food.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. These are low in calories and can be eaten frequently. The fiber present in them prevents constipation and also aids with weight loss.

3.  Avoid simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, white pastas, white breads and sugary snacks. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, or whole grains, such as brown rice, brown pastas and brown breads.

4. Never miss your morning breakfast! Keep it healthy and simple. Fresh fruits, cereals like whole grains cereals, oats or muesli with milk make good choices.

5. Eat small frequent meals. Never remain hungry. This avoids over-eating and excessive binging on food when one is hungry.


Be patient in your attempt to lose lower weight and belly fat. Belly fat is the most difficult type of fat to lose. Keep your calories low and you will achieve the body type you desire.

Check with your doctor before making serious changes to your diet.

modified via How To Lose Lower Belly Fat With The Right Food | LIVESTRONG.COM.

Life’s Simple 7

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer!  One needs to live a healthy lifestyle involving daily exercise and a healthy diet to reduce heart disease.

The American Heart Association has identified seven health and behavior factors that impact health and quality of life. We know that even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

Known as “Life’s Simple 7,” these steps can help add years to your life:

don’t smoke;

maintain a healthy weight;

engage in regular physical activity;

eat a healthy diet;

manage blood pressure;

take charge of cholesterol; and

keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.

So follow them as much as possible and be healthy!


Why am I not losing weight?

Most of my patients complain to me :  “I am unable to lose weight inspite of giving it my best shot?” 

Now, why is that?

Most of them follow diets which cannot be continued for long time or have bad eating habits or follow one of the below mentioned things.

Things that never work: 

Fasting for long hours.

Fasting for half a day.

Skipping their breakfast and other meals.

Eating once a day.

Liquid diets.

Taking supplements to lose weight.

Alternative diets

Getting on the vibrator belt/ using fancy exercise equipment to lose weight (vibrators).

Now why is that these things don’t work?

Its very simple! Lets get down to the basics!

Consider that you have a bucket and you are filling water in it from the top and draining some water from below. It you are filling it with more water than the amount of water you are draining, it is bound to fill up and overflow. It you are adding less water from the top and draining more water from the bottom, the bucket is going to be empty soon.

So, What does this tell you?

It tells us that Losing Weight is all about your intake and output. Your intake is in the form of food stuff that you consume/eat which adds up to calories in medical terms. The output is the calories you lose by performing your daily routine/ exercise.

So if one’s calorie intake is lower that the calorie expenditure, there is a 100% chance that one will reduce and lose weight.

So What do we do?

Follow the following!

A. Tips regarding eating to lose weight:

1. Eat Well! Do not Fast as that is not going to help.

2. Eat a healthy Breakfast! Very important! Lots of studies have proven that people who miss breakfast are likely to put on weight. So do no skip your breakfast!

3. What can you eat for breakfast? Fruits, Fruit juices, whole grain cereals, oats, muesli, sandwiches etc. I personally prefer Kellogg’s cereal with fruits added to it mixed in milk!

4. Eat frequent small meals! Eat 4-6 times in a day. The trick is to keep the tummy full and avoid hunger pangs. Hunger pangs make you overeat! But, it is important to eat healthy stuff when you are going to eat frequently. Options include fruits, salads, fish, white meat, sandwiches, snacks like nuts.

5. Eat Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper! So very true! Breakfast >> Lunch>> Dinner.  Add 2 more snacks in between them and that should suffice to make you lose weight.

6. Eat Healthy food stuff: Cereals, Whole grain foodstuff, Fresh fruits, Salads, nuts etc. Even cheese slices or dark chocolates would do as one of the snack.

7. Avoid Fried food, Fast food, refined flour, polished grains.

8.  Eat food stuff which is part of your everyday staple diet so that its easy to follow it throughout life! Do not drastically change the food items which you consume daily.

9. Eat only natural sugar: in the form of fruits or honey. This way you can avoid sugar and sugar containing items like cakes and cookies.

B. Tips regarding exercising:

1. Regular Exercise is a must. Brisk Walking for 30-45 minutes should suffice for most of us.

2. Earn your TV time! If you exercise for half hour, you get to watch TV for half hour!

That’s one of the best advice I give to my patients. NO EXERCISE = NO TV!

3.  Any time of the day is good enough for exercise! If you miss your morning walk, try to do it in the evenings.

4. Walk, walk, Walk! Walk the stairs, walk in your office, walk to the supermarket, walk in your neighbourhood. Walk even when you are working! Walk whenever you see a opportunity. This can help in burning calories even if its for a few minutes!

5. DO NOT CONCENTRATE ON LOSING WEIGHT OR A MAGIC NUMBER! Living a Healthy life is more important than procrastinating on why the weight is not reducing!

Give up worrying about your weight. Just concentrate on Living and Eating Healthy. The rest will follow in due course. Even if it does not, you have the sense of accomplishment of following a Healthy Lifestyle!

So, Eat Healthy and Walk Healthy for Life!

Walk, walk, walk!

Walk, walk, walk!

That’s the best advice I give to my patients.

Healthy lifestyle = healthy heart!

What’s the best exercise for the heart?

Its Aerobic exercise which the heart needs. Aerobic exercises increases the heart rate and thereby improve cardiac reserve.

Which are the Aerobic Exercises I can do?

Exercises which result in an increase in heart rate are good. These include:

Brisk Walking

Running/ Jogging



How does one know that the heart rate increases on a particular exercise?

One can feel his pulse or also feel the heart beats in the form of palpitations. Nowadays, one can buy a heart rate monitor which can be applied on the chest or on the arm.

Does slow walking help?

Yes it does help to a certain extent. However it may not result in good increase in heart rate if the pace of walking is slow.

How much should the heart rate increase to?

The heart rate should increase to a 80 to 85% of your maximum heart rate. One can calculate his maximum heart rate by the formula 220-age.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) = 220 – age of the individual

How long should this heart rate increase persist?

To derive maximum benefit, one should maintain the momentum of exercise for at least 15-20 minutes.

What health benefits does aerobic exercise offer?

Reduces BP

Reduces Cholesterol

Reduces sugar

Reduces weight

Reduces chances of heart attacks

Improves cardiac reserve

Improves mood

Improves joint mobility and reduces arthritis

Strengthens bones and joints

Increases ones confidence

Also, its doesn’t cost a thing!

Which is the best exercise?

Brisk walking happens to be the best as it can be done by individuals of all age groups. It can be done even if you are travelling out of town. It can be done any time of the day. and doesn’t cost a penny! Also its less stressful on the joints compared to running which can cause knee pain. If one has access to swimming pool, swimming is good for individuals with arthritis issues.

Whats the current recommendation for Exercise?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30-45 minutes of exercise for all individuals for a minimum of 5 days in a week.

What about yoga?

Yoga/ Asanas are static postures and so do nothing to increase heart rate (and thereby the cardiac reserve). Pranayam and Yogasanas relaxes the body and mind and stretches the joints and muscles. Thereby, they provide a relaxing effect and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. They also help in reducing anxiety.

What about Surya-namaskars?

Surya-namaskars if done at a fast pace can increase heart rate and improve cardiac reserve. However for most of us its easier to go out walking than do surya-namaskars. Also the heart rate increase with surya-namaskars may not be to the extent as with other aerobic exercises.

What about mental health?

Relaxing techniques like pranayam, breathing techniques and even praying can relax one’s mind and provide much needed rest to the mind. Good sleep and adequate lesiure time is also necessary.