Sure they’re delicious, salty and fun to eat, but the benefits of olives are that they’re great for your health. Here’s 10 health benefits of eating olives:
- Antioxidant Food– Free radicals cause plastic to deteriorate, paint to fade, works of art to degrade. They can also cause age related illnesses and contribute to strokes, cancer and heart attacks. Yikes! Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons, on a quest to find another electron and are very reactive and damaging to surrounding molecules. The enemy of the free radical? Antioxidants! Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals, giving up some of their electrons and neutralizing the free radical. (It’s like the antioxidant gives the free radical a hug and helps it feel better.) Olives are antioxidant rich food, which means every time you eat them you send an army of good guys into your system to help those bad-guy free radicals chill out.
- Low Calorie – One olive only has about 7 calories. They have a ‘negative calorie load’, which means you burn more calories digesting an olive that you gain eating one.
- Good Fat - Despite the common misperception, olives are not fattening. They contain mono-unsaturated fat, the same good fat you find in nuts and avocados. Mono-unsaturated fat in the diet increases good cholesterol. In research studies, when diets increase mono-unsaturated fat (without becoming too high in total fat), participants experienced a decrease in their blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and LDL:HDL ratio. All of this lowers risk of heart disease. Good stuff!
- Memory – Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduce oxidative stress in the brain. By eating a daily serving of healthy olives you can help improve your memory. Remember that!
- Beauty – Eating healthy olives helps skin stay soft and healthy since they contain oleic acid. Eat olives = stay good-looking.
- Appetite control – By eating a few olives before a meal, you can take the edge off your appetite. This is because the monounsaturated fatty acids contained in healthy olives slow down the digestion process and stimulate the hormone cholecystokinin, which sends messages of fullness and satisfaction to the brain.
- Pain reduction – Olives oil contain oleocanthal, a substance with anti-inflammatory agents that can act as a natural Ibuprofen.
- Anti Cancer – The fact that olives are an antioxidant-rich food and have anti-inflammatory properties make them a natural protection against cancer because chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can be key factors in the development of cancer. If our cells get overwhelmed by oxidative stress and chronic excessive inflammation, our risk of cell cancer is increased. By providing us with rich supplies of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, olives can help us avoid this dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
- Vitamin E – Olives are a great source of vitamin E, which has the ability to neutralize free radicals in body fat. Especially when working with the stable monounsaturated fats found in olives, vitamin E can make cellular processes safer. If the DNA of a cell is damaged, it can mutate and become cancerous. Studies have shown that a diet supplemented with olives and olive oil leads to a lower risk of colon cancer, almost as low a risk as a diet rich in fish oil.
- Fiber – Olives are full of dietary fiber. Your microbiome and the probiotics within it lo-o-o-o-v-e fibrous foods which we discuss in Why Eating Prebiotics and Probiotics Are Necessary for Gut Health (And is Easier Than You Think).
Words about sodium. Nobody’s perfect. Olives are salty, containing about 60 mg of sodium per olive. Through osmosis, you can reduce the saltiness of your olives by replacing a portion of brine with plain water. If you have high blood pressure or have been advised to reduce sodium intake, consume all salty food responsibly.
Olives come from olive trees. Check out 9 Amazing Attributes of Olive Trees That Will Humble and Inspire You to be, well, humbled and inspired.