Some of the amazing health benefits of olives include significant protection against cancer, maintenance of healthy blood vessels, pain relief, support for intestinal health, reduced risk of diabetes, promotion of weight loss, prevention of infections, reduced risk of osteoporosis, preservation of brain function, reduction of seasonal allergies, and support for eye health.
What is an olive?
Olives are among the healthiest fruits (yes, they are fruits) on the planet and are associated with Mediterranean areas. In fact, they are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, which is responsible for improving health and well-being. They may be small, but their importance should not be exaggerated.
Olives grow on trees called oleo europaea and belong to the category of fruits called stone fruits, which also includes other members such as mangoes. They are usually green when immature and black when ripe. However, there are ripe olives that remain green.
Originally, the olive probably originated in North Africa, after which it was and is grown mainly in the Mediterranean regions of Italy and Greece. They are still an integral part of the daily cuisine of the inhabitants, with Mediterranean people consuming 300% more olive oil than westerners.
Nutritional information (per 100g portion)
Fibre-3,5g 13% RDA
Total fat-15,3g 24% RDA
Saturated fat-2,0g 10% RDA
Single unsaturated fat-11,5g
Multiple unsaturated fat-1.3g
Vitamin A-393IU 8% RDA
Vitamin E-3.8mg 19% RDA
Vitamin K-1.4mcg 2% RDA
Calcium-52mg 5% RDA
Iron-0.5mg 3% RDA
Magnesium-11mg 3% RDA
Sodium-1550mg 65% RDA
Copper-0.1mg 6% RDA
Then let’s get started. Here are 11 amazing health benefits of the olive.
1. Provides significant protection against cancer
It is no coincidence that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean regions have one of the lowest cancer rates in the world, as much of this protection is due to the abundant use and consumption of olives and olive oil. Olives contain phenolic compounds, including squalene and terpenoid, which are powerful anti-cancer agents. They are also full of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is not exactly in the spotlight. Finally, high levels of monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation markers and stop the processes that can cause cancer.
2. ? Helps maintain healthy blood vessels
One of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease is the formation of atheromatic plaques on the walls of the blood vessels. Accelerated oxidation of LDL cholesterol has contributed significantly to this plaque, but olives and olive oil help prevent it. The presence of phenolic compounds greatly reduces the oxidation of this cholesterol, making the blood vessels clearer and freer for circulation. These compounds also contribute to the flexibility of the blood vessels by preventing hardening of the endothelium.
3. Helps natural pain relief
The olives are full of phytochemicals, one of which is called oleocanthal. This compound is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can match the action and effect of many of the most powerful NSAID painkillers. This can make olives an effective remedy for chronic inflammations such as arthritis or after exercise. Take the above olive-based diet instead of a painkiller, and your health will thank you!
4. Bowel health support
Regular consumption of olives and olive oil plays an important role in maintaining the health of our probiotic bacteria by giving them the energy they need to survive. Consumption is associated with improved colony size of many different probiotics, including bifidobacteria, which help the body produce natural antibiotics.
5. Reducing the risk of diabetes
Olives are extremely beneficial for diabetics or people at risk of becoming diabetic because they naturally have a low glycemic index. On the one hand, olives are rich in monounsaturated fats which, among other things, can considerably slow down the absorption of glucose in the blood. But that’s not all that helps diabetes patients, because consumption after diagnosis also plays a role. Oxidative damage can spread in diabetics and accelerate the deterioration of organs such as the kidneys and eyes. The antioxidants in olive oil, together with the anti-inflammatory properties of fats, help prevent the complications of diabetes from exacerbating the disease.
6. May promote weight loss.
While the overall calorie reduction is important to achieve measurable weight loss, a healthy fat diet can help you achieve your goal. Monounsaturated fats are among the best in mobilizing free fatty acids, reducing inflammation associated with rapid fat oxidation and promoting a general feeling of fullness in the body. A low-calorie diet is strongly associated with the desire and need for food, which can be remedied by including sufficient amounts of high quality fats in the diet.
7. Contributions to infection control
Many people don’t know this, but olives are actually an excellent support for your immune system because they can reduce the risk of all kinds of infections, whether bacterial, fungal or viral. Olives have long been used for this purpose for cultural purposes, including the use of the leaves to treat local wounds and infections. Olives even have the potential to inhibit the growth of the destructive bacterium MRSA, a strain resistant to many common prescription antibiotics.
8. May reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a slowly developing disease that affects the integrity of the bone and turns it into a hollow shell of what is actually dense, calcified tissue. The risk of osteoporosis can be reduced by a diet rich in osteogenic minerals and exercise, but olives can also play an important role. Olives contain specific polyphenols that play a role in bone formation and metabolism, reducing the risk of mineral leaching and affecting bone strength. Add olives to your diet and be pleasantly surprised by the results!
9. Maintains brain function
Brain function and health can deteriorate rapidly when exposed to excessive inflammation and oxidation, to which olives can contribute. In addition to the monounsaturated fats that help reduce the burden of inflammation, some phenolic compounds found in olives can reduce the aggregation of molecules that can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Since these two diseases have a strong inflammatory relationship, it is logical that foods that reduce inflammation are promising in the treatment of these diseases.
10. May reduce seasonal allergies
Olives are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which are also responsible for effects leading to the suppression of allergies. Histamine is released in response to certain stimuli that trigger an allergic reaction. Olives also act as antihistamines, reducing inflammation of the lungs and reducing mucus production, making it easy to breathe. It is a good idea to start eating olives before the allergy season to avoid surprises due to contact with allergens, as the olive itself is said to be slightly allergenic.
11. Good for the eyes
Olives contain large amounts of vitamin A and related antioxidants that have been shown to have a positive effect on eye health. These carotenoid antioxidants reduce age-related macular degeneration, can inhibit the formation of cataracts and keep our optic nerve healthy. Olives rich in vitamin E provide extra support superior to vitamin A alone.
The inhabitants of the Mediterranean have been eating olives in their diet for centuries and they are developing healthily. The benefits of olives are well known in the West, but many people still give up olives and their oil. Choose extra virgin olive oil because it contains most of the polyphenols that make the olives so good and you can save yourself the pain of illness later on.