Today, we are learning about the benefits of olives…
Olives are one of nature’s most nutritious low-carb fruits, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Olives are bitter and salty fruits that grow on olive trees. Known as’ Olea europaea ‘in botanical language, olives were widely used and originated in the Mediterranean basin. The nutritional content of olives is very high, one of the many reasons olives are called superfoods. Olives are one of the most important ingredients in the Mediterranean diet in the form of olive oil.
About 90% of the olive harvest is used for making oil, and the rest, 10% for consumption. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in heart-healthy fats and antioxidants, making it a good source of protection against heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The main types of fat in olive oil are monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), considered healthy fat by health experts.
Due to their numerous health benefits, olives and olive oil are widely used in many countries. There are 14 different olive varieties, including black and green olives, kalamata, and Spanish green olives, each with numerous health benefits.
You can include olives in your diets, such as olive oil or salads and pizzas, or you can eat them like fruit. Out of the innumerable health benefits of olives, here are the 10 benefits we all must know.
Benefits of Olives:
1. Low in calories, saturated fat, and carbs
You can enjoy your food with guilt-free olive oil as olives are very low in saturated and trans fat and carbohydrate content. One olive contains only around 7 calories.
The main kind of fat in olives consists of ‘oleic acid,’ monounsaturated fat and healthy fat. Olives have a total fat content of 11-15%, with 75% of that fat being healthy and essential for improving heart health and preventing heart disease.
Due to the high content of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet, researchers have proved the diet to have many health benefits, including those for the heart, eyes, and brain. Olives comprise 4–6% of carbs, most of which are fibre.
Almost 86% of the carb content of olives consists of fibre, which makes the total carb content of olives very low, making it a low-carb fruit.
2. High in antioxidants
Olives are rich in antioxidants, which help prevent or slow down cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells like proteins, DNA, and lipids, contributing to ageing and many chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, heart problems, cancer, and cataract.
Antioxidants help fight or scavenge these free radicals, reducing the risk of diseases caused by them. Vitamins C and E, selenium, and beta carotene are a few examples of antioxidants. As olives contain a high amount of vitamin E, they are considered a good source of natural antioxidants.
Antioxidants are super compounds that help prevent many health conditions such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and blood pressure. They are one of the main reasons behind the countless health benefits of olives.
3. Olives boost heart health
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in our bodies and contributes to high blood pressure, hypertension, and other heart diseases. The high composition of vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants in olives and olive oil helps maintain this imbalance, improving heart health.
Black olives are particularly considered good for the heart compared to green olives. The antioxidant compounds in black olives hinder the oxidation of cholesterol, thereby preventing many heart diseases.
Researchers have proved that olive oil in your diet leads to healthy blood flow and clears waste from arteries, avoiding blockage and heart attack. Olives are also low in cholesterol, which causes most heart problems. Olives
4. Fight signs of aging
You can either use olive oil in your everyday cooking or apply it to your skin to delay the appearance of those wrinkles and fine lines. Many celebrities have also accepted using olive oil for years for their beautiful and glowing skin. The high percentage of antioxidants and vitamin E in olives help fight the free radicals that cause signs of aging.
Studies also suggest that olive oil has powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the skin and helps protect it from sun damage. Olive oil mostly contains monounsaturated fat, which is believed to increase skin elasticity and firmness. Vitamin E, present in olive oil, has been found to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation, thus guarding it against skin cancer and premature aging.
The vitamins in olives boost collagen production, which is necessary for healthy hair and skin. You should always prefer green olives or extra virgin olive oil for skin and hair because this is the highest quality olive oil extracted from pure olive juice.
5. Olives help in maintaining a healthy weight
Olives are a low-calorie fruit, which may help with weight loss by making you feel full for a long period. As olives are a low-fat and low-carb fruit, including olives in your diet helps you maintain a healthy weight. According to some studies, if you consume 10 olives before any meal, your appetite will be reduced by 22% because of the monounsaturated fatty acids.
You can also replace your regular cooking oil with olive oil for everyday cooking. When selecting olives for weight loss, always choose olives processed in the Greek style, as they have been found to contain a significant amount of antioxidants.
Avoid canned olives as they contain high amounts of sodium, which leads to water retention or stomach bloat. So, if you plan to lose a few extra pounds, add olives and olive oil to your everyday diet.
6. Olives may help in killing cancer cells
Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered the major reason for the low cancer rate in the Mediterranean region. Many studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil helps in killing cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Studies indicate that a powerful compound called “oleocanthal” is found in certain extra virgin olive oils with this cancer-killing power.
Olive oils have different levels of oleocanthal due to their origin, harvest time, and processing methods. Studies have also indicated olive oil helps prevent certain cancers like colon cancer and breast cancer in women.
It was found that women who ate the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil faced a relatively reduced risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who had a normal diet. Black olives are rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, and it has been observed that frequent consumption of black olives reduces the risk of colon cancer.
7. Olives are good for your bones.
Bone density and bone health degenerate with aging, resulting in skeletal fragility and fractures in both men and women. This condition is also known as “osteoporosis.” In this condition, the bones become so weak and brittle that even a minimal fall or trauma can cause fractures. Studies on humans revealed that everyday consumption of olive oil could prevent the degradation of bone mineral density.
Vitamin E and the antioxidants present in olives, olive oil and its polyphenols not only help with joint function and relieve pain but also prevent illnesses associated with inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal. This compound works to avoid and reduce inflammation by restricting pro-inflammatory enzymes in our bodies.
The olives’ compounds also help maintain the balance between the breakdown and repair of bones. A few studies suggest that people who consume extra virgin olive oil daily have a 51% lower risk of fractures than those who don’t consume olive oil.
8. Olives help prevent diabetes
Oleuropein is a powerful compound found in fresh and ripe olives. It may increase insulin secretion, which is useful in diabetes prevention. Many studies have suggested that an abundant olive oil diet lowers blood sugar levels and, due to its effect on cholesterol, prevents a number of diseases that are very common in diabetic patients.
Olive polyphenols have been credited with controlling blood sugar spikes that cause diabetes. Oleic acid in olives has been proven to facilitate glucose transport into cells. Oleic acid has also been associated with significant reductions in blood pressure. Olives contain over 35 powerful phenolic compounds that have been shown to help with type 2 diabetes treatment.
Additionally, medical researchers suggest that olive polyphenols and oleuropein avoid fatty acid oxidation and help lower cholesterol. Olives are a low-calorie and low-carb fruit, so you can enjoy 5–6 olives as an appetizer before every meal to maintain your blood sugar levels.
9. Olives Improve Brain Health
Consuming more olives or olive products may help improve brain fitness and lower the risk of brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. The human brain comprises 60% fat, and the healthy monounsaturated fats in olives boost brain health and mental well-being.
Olive polyphenols are known to improve memory by reducing stress in the brain. Olives are particularly rich in vitamins E and A and antioxidants. These compounds fight inflammation and neutralize the harmful narrowing of blood vessels. Another limited study from Australia indicated that olives might also help battle depression, another mental illness.
Vitamin K in olive oil plays an important role in keeping our brains sharp as we age. It can also improve the ability to remember words, which is a big problem in old age. Olives can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
10. Olives improve digestive health
As olives are a fermented food, they are rich in gut-healthy bacteria and enzymes. Fresh olives taste very bitter due to a bitter compound called oleuropein if consumed directly from the tree. This bitterness is removed by alkaline treatment or stored in brine or salt water, fermentation, and acidification.
These processes make the olive abundant in “lactobacillus”—a type of gut-friendly bacteria. Consuming olives provides you with plenty of this gut-friendly bacteria that increase the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and may enhance your immunity. The antioxidants in olives have been proven to fight bacteria that cause stomach and airway infections.
Olives promote good cholesterol in our bodies and contain a good amount of fibre, which is necessary for digestive tract health and easy, healthy movement of food in the system. Olives are also high in other nutrients and minerals, such as iron and copper, which are necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies. Olive oil has also been shown to help with stomach conditions such as ulcers and gastritis.
Olives are an excellent source of dietary fibre, which is necessary to keep our cholesterol in check and maintain good digestive health.
The above points prove that olives are a superfood without any doubt. Olives are proven to be effective and helpful in many health conditions. These are just a few of the many health benefits of olives. Eating olives or including olive products in your diet is a good way to boost your health.
Also, if you are on a low sodium diet, always opt for fresh olives from the olive tree. Because olives are generally packed in brine or salt water, they become high in sodium, and high sodium intake can cause cardiovascular disease. With such a good nutritional profile and antioxidant properties, olives are a go-to for anyone who wants to improve their immune system.
And now that you know so many advantages of eating olives, what are you waiting for? Incorporate olives into your daily life as part of a well-balanced diet for healthy living.
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