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Why metabolic health is critical for your overall health

by Vidya Sury March 16, 2017 2 comments
Why metabolic health is critical for overall health

I am actually going to talk about what is metabolic health, why is it important for your overall health, and how you can improve it with olive oil. I started using Leonardo olive oil a few months back and am experiencing the benefits.

Over the last decade or so, there has been a sharp rise in non-communicable diseases or NCDs, globally, and statistics clearly indicate that this will only get worse.

In the Indian context, there are four NCDs that are true killers, triggered by changes in the way we eat—our diet. These are: cardio vascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.

So what is the connection between these four NCDs and metabolic health?

First, let me explain what is metabolic health. We keep talking about “slow metabolism” and “metabolic rates” all the time.

Every cell in our body needs energy to do its job—whether it is delivering timely nutrients to the brain, or pumping oxygen from the lungs to the muscles as you walk briskly, or generating white blood cells in your bone marrow to fight infection. Metabolism is that system which converts calories in our food into energy (blood sugar) to fuel various functions.

Our metabolic system is like a cellular engine run by our organs, hormones and enzymes that work in coordination to digest, absorb, process, transport, and excrete important nutrients. When the engine is faulty, our metabolic health suffers, making all the difference between being well and sick.

Metabolism is influenced by various factors, including heredity and changes with age. We all have an inner speedometer that controls the BMR, which is the pace at which our body uses energy while we rest.

So, metabolic health is the basic metabolism rate or BMR of a person.

  • If you have high BMR, your metabolic health will be good.
  • Low BMR is linked to an increased risk of developing NCDs – that is cardio vascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.

Those with low basal metabolism rate are likely to develop “metabolic syndrome” which is a web of metabolic factors. This is a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and high blood sugar. “Metabolic syndrome is connected to the obesity epidemic of our time, a big belly poisons our metabolism and a poisoned metabolism can result in type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, or sudden death,” a leading researcher notes.

In plain language, someone with low BMR has 2x risk of cardio vascular disease and 5x risk of diabetes.

How will you know if you have low metabolism?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states the causes of metabolic syndrome as follows:

  • If you have a larger than normal waistline. (normal waistline for women is 35 inches and for men, 40 inches. When fat accumulates in the waist, it is an invitation for heart diseases.
  • If your triglyceride levels are high
  • If your HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol responsible for melting cholesterol in the arteries is low, your risk for heart disease is high
  • If your blood pressure is high, it damages your heart and builds up plaque
  • If your blood sugar is high, particularly fasting blood sugar

Not a happy situation.

Shouldn’t diet play a role in metabolic health?

A big YES. According to medical experts, metabolic health is directly linked to the type of fat we eat. Diets that are rich in MUFA or mono unsaturated fatty acids do the following:

  • improve glycemic control and plasma lipid control
  • increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics
  • improve cardio vascular health

In short, healthy fats = better metabolic health. If you’ve heard of the popular Mediterranean diet, which is known to prevent metabolic syndrome, it uses olive oil as a key component and the main source of MUFA or good fat. Olive oil, according to recent research, improves metabolic health significantly. It has 75% MUFA with the primary MUFA being oleic acid.

Why is olive oil in the spotlight?

Olive oil is especially beneficial in maintaining good metabolic health and preventing the onset of non-communicable diseases. I mean, who wants to look forward to heart disease, diabetes, COPD, and cancer? In fact, ongoing research about the health benefits of olive oil reveal something new almost every day.

Let’s look at some of the top reasons to include olive oil in our diet:

Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes

Olive oil controls blood sugar, and this has to be my no.1 reason, as a diabetic. A low-fat diet prevents heart diseases, diabetes, and other related diseases. The MUFA in olive oil guards the human body from numerous chronic diseases and also minimizes the probability of developing Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 50%. As you may have guessed, this ultimately leads to improved metabolic health.

Weight and waistline close to normal

Antioxidant rich olive oil has Vitamin E and polyphenols, the soldiers that   effectively fight against free radicals in the blood. Its high MUFA content directly lowers LDL or bad cholesterol and increases HDL or good cholesterol.  When you use olive oil regularly, it also improves bowel health, optimizing the movement of food in your system, which means fewer calories get absorbed and retained in the system.

HDL and LDL regulation

There is research to prove that a diet that regularly uses olive oil means lower risk of heart disease and lower LDL.  It also reduces oxidation of LDL, which corrodes the arterial wall more than the actual LDL. Olive oil also raises HDL cholesterol, which is great for heart health. So, choosing olive oil with its high phenol content helps you increase HDL, compared to oils with low phenols.

Prevents cancer

Olive oil kills cancer cells. Oleocanthal, the phytonutrient in olive oil reduces inflammation, which in turn reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Besides these, olive oil is also beneficial as it:

Prevents strokes

  • Keeps the heart young
  • Fights osteoporosis
  • Protects from depression
  • Prevents skin cancer and breast cancer
  • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

A healthy metabolism is the cornerstone of overall health.  Rather than shy away from your favorite foods for fear of messing with your metabolism, why not include olive oil in your diet and enjoy the benefits? As I mentioned earlier, I use Leonardo Olive oil, which is ideal for all kinds of cooking like deep frying, every day cooking, and dip & garnishing.

In fact, their current campaign “Khata rahe mera dil” aims to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil to ensure a healthy and better nourished India. Leonardo is available in Extra virgin, Extra Light and Pomace variants to cater to different needs.

Benefits and usage:

Extra Virgin

  • Obtained from first pressing of Olives.
  • Comes with all the natural goodness of Olives.
  • Unique flavor and aroma of olive fruit.
  • Healthy substitute of butter on toasts / rotis, salads, pastas, grilled sandwiches.

Extra Light

  • Naturally refined Olive Oil.
  • Most suitable for Indian day-to-day cooking, shallow-frying.
  • Mild aroma and flavor.
  • Used in making Paranthas, Palak Paneer, Sabji, Dal Tadka etc.,


  • It’s a refined Olive Oil
  • Ideal for all type of Indian cooking, roasting & deep frying.
  • Does not change the flavor or taste of food.
  • Used in making Samosas, Pooris, Aloo Tikki etc.


  • Has High MUFA – which forms a thin crust over the food item cooked and inhibits oil penetration , making it light, tasty and digestible
  • Has High Oxidative Stability – retain the natural nutritive compounds for long during frying.
  • Is less absorbed – 1/3 of oil is used as compare to other edible oils and hence cost effective

As a pioneer in branded edible olive oils, Leonardo Olive Oil is the no.1 olive oil brand in India. It is the leading olive oil brand with highest quality standards and sourced from Southern Italy, which is renowned for olive cultivation and processing for centuries. Food cooked in Leonardo is light and digestible—its high MUFA content (75%) creates a crust on the surface of the food that prevents the penetration of oil.

Cheers to a healthier India!

Do you use olive oil?

(Featured image from Shutterstock)

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Wendy March 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm

I always have at least 3 different types of olive oil in my pantry. You’re preaching to the converted here. But just yesterday I read an article that was blaming increased use of vegetable oils for obesity levels! Sugar… fat… vegetable oil… What next?
Please don’t say coffee!

Vidya Sury March 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Haha! I hear you. I’d never say Coffee! In fact, I’ve been told to cut down or ditch it altogether. There’s always be a jury out there and researchers sitting on the fence over the benefits of just about anything that’s edible. I will simply go by what my grandmother said: the longer the shelf life, the shorter our life. And use fresh as much as possible. Hugs Wendy!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Mom, are you ready for your child’s LAST growth spurt?


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