The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Olives into Your Diet

Olives are super versatile and easily accessible, making them the most important plants. These small oval fruits are also often pressed into cooking oil or draped against the rim of a glass of martini. However, one fact that often goes under the radar is the health benefit of a diet with the stone fruit.

Olives are rich in antioxidants, which are responsible for the majority of the fruit’s perks. This article discusses the nutritional profile of olive and how it can help remedy some health problems.

Nutritional Profile of Olives

Olives contain around 115 to 145 calories for every 100 grams. This is the equivalent of 59 calories in 10 fruits. Some of the nutrients that can be found in this oval stone fruit include:

  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Sugar
  • Fiber
  • Fat (Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated)

In addition to the nutrients listed above, olives are packed with several vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, iron, copper, calcium, and sodium.

Processing of Olives

Even though store-purchased olives are tasty, these fruits do not have this delicious taste upon harvest. In fact, fresh olives are very bitter and need to be processed to make them sweet enough for consumption. 

The process reduces the amount of the bitter compound, oleuropein, in the fruit. Processing olives may also reduce the amount of cholesterol and up beneficial bacteria in the fruit.

Health Benefits of Olives

Olives are associated with many health benefits, some of which include:

Improved Bone Health

Incorporating olives into your diet may be beneficial for your bones, preventing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone quality and increases the mass of bones. People with this condition are at more risk of bone fractures.

It’s been noted that the rate of osteoporosis is much lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe. Therefore, experts believe that olive consumption is responsible for the protection against the condition.

Furthermore, test-tube studies have shown that some plant compounds in olives and olive oil prevent bone loss in animals. Observational studies also indicate that following a Mediterranean diet may help reduce your risk for bone fractures.

Cancer Prevention

Olives are highly consumed in the Mediterranean region, where records show that the rate of cancer and other chronic diseases are low. For this reason, experts believe that consuming the fruit may reduce your risk of cancer.

Researchers have attributed olive’s anti-cancer properties to its oleic acid and high antioxidant content. One study found that these compounds fight against cancer cells in the breast, colon, and stomach.

Also, black olives are packed with vitamin E, which helps the body neutralize free radicals that can cause cancer. Vitamin E also makes cellular processes safer when working with monounsaturated fats.

Better Skin and Hair Health

Black olives are loaded with various fatty acids and antioxidants that hydrate and protect skin and hair cells. One of the antioxidants responsible for this property is vitamin E. When consumed or topically applied, it protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus reducing the risk of skin cancer and slowing aging.

A French study by PubMed Central found olive oil played a significant role in preventing severe facial photo-aging. The study linked higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids to a lower risk of severe photo-aging. Photoaging refers to the damage that prolonged exposure to the sun causes to your skin.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and increased blood pressure are the main causes of heart diseases. LDL causes the build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries, blocking oxygen and blood flow. Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olives has been linked with improved heart health.

Oleic acid regulates the levels of LDL cholesterol and prevents it from oxidation. However, experts believe that more study is required to confirm this. In addition, some studies prove that olives and olive oil may reduce blood pressure.

Better Brain Health

Olives reduce oxidative stress caused by inflammation, thereby protecting the tissues of vital organs. The polyphenols found in the stone fruit reduce chronic inflammation by preventing organ tissue damage.

The brain is one of the vital organs protected by olive’s anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, the fruit’s vitamin E content has been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of cognitive decline. A study found that diets that contain olive oil as a primary fat source reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Bottom Line

Olives are considered a good choice for many and their numerous health benefits offer more reasons to include them in your diet. However, excess consumption of the processed form of the stone fruit contributes to your salt intake due to their packaging liquid. 

Olive is very easy to incorporate into your diet. To reap its health perks, consider cooking your food with olive oil. You can also add olives to your salad and snacks.