Olives are small fruits that grow in olive trees. They belong to a group of fruits called stone fruits.
Olives are known to be rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants. They are good for heart health and may also protect against osteoporosis and cancer. They contain healthy fats that produce olive oil. Olive oil is known to be one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet.
Olives are can put on sandwiches, salads, and spreads. Olives in their immature form are green, they turn black on ripening. Some may remain green even on ripening.(1)
100 grams of ripe, canned olives contain 116 calories, 0.8 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 1.6 grams of fiber, and 10.9 grams of fats.(2)
The common varieties of whole olives are:
- Spanish green olive, in pickled form
- Green black olive in raw form
- California olives, which are ripened with oxidation and then pickled
Olives are bitter and therefore cannot be eaten fresh. They are fermented, which reduces the bitter compound present in them. It helps in reducing cholesterol and increasing beneficial bacteria in the final product.(3) Lactic acid is an important ingredient during fermentation, which acts as a natural preservative.
Depending on the method, processing olives may take a few days to a few months
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Olives
Olives are the main ingredient of the Mediterranean diet and are associated with many health benefits especially improving health and preventing the occurrence of cancer.
Antioxidants help in reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
The antioxidants present in olives help in fighting inflammation and reduce the growth of microorganisms.(4)
A study done in 2009 showed that eating pulpy residue of olives increased the blood levels of glutathione significantly. Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant in the body.(5)
Improves Heart Health
The risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
Oleic acid is the main fatty acid in olives and is associated with improved heart health. It regulates the cholesterol level and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.(6)
Improves Bone Health
A decrease in bone mass and quality leads to osteoporosis and this is known to increase the risk of fractures.
The risk of osteoporosis is low in Mediterranean countries as olives are maximum used in these countries and may protect against this condition.(7)
Some of the plant compounds present in olives are believed to play a role in preventing bone loss, is what is observed in animal and test-tube studies.(8, 9)
Also, an observational study suggests that the Mediterranean diet may help in reducing the risk of bone fracture.(10)
Helps in Preventing Cancer
Olives and olive oil are mostly consumed in the Mediterranean region and these regions have the lowest rate of cancer and other chronic conditions.(11)
It is therefore believed that olives may be helpful in reducing the risk of occurrence of cancer. It may be due to the high antioxidant content and oleic acid. It is seen in the test tube studies that these compounds disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the colon, breast, and stomach.(12, 13)
Human studies are needed to confirm this effect in humans.
Potential Downsides of Olives
Olives are mostly tolerated by many. They may contain a high amount of salt due to the packing liquid.
Some people may be allergic to olives and may experience allergic reactions inside the mouth and throat.
Acrylamide present in it is linked with a high risk of cancer. However, it’s questionable by the scientist.(14)
Some of the varieties of olives especially ripe black olives contain a high amount of acrylamide due to processing.(15)
Olives can be an extremely delicious addition to appetizers and meals. They are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats and also come up with many health benefits. This is easy to be incorporated into routine dishes and can be a great addition to the healthy whole-foods-based diet.