Few months ago my huge craving for olives started 🤤😋. It hasn’t ended, I eat some nearly every day! 🤷🏻♀️😅🙊🙉🙈. When you mention olives to people, the reaction always is: “but what about the added salt”? I decided to actually research this particular topic, because I love olives 😍. It’s real love 🤣🥰…
Did you know ⁉️
I always thought there was two colours of olives: green & black, however some immature olives are green and turn black when they ripen. Others remain green even when fully ripe, and processing can also turn unripe olives black, but the bottom line is that regardless of color, all olives contain valuable substances 💪🏼🫒❗️In the Mediterranean region, 90% of olives are used to make olive oil-also my favourite! 😍😋🥰
People have cultivated olive trees for more than 7,000 years 🙈🙉! Let’s be honest, that’s a loooong time❗️👨🏼🦳👵🏼
🫒 Nutritional Facts 🫒
Known as the healthiest fat on the planet! 🌍
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is high in polyphenols (antioxidants), which can help prevent diseases relating to the heart and blood vessels 🫀🩺.
➡️ Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed/refined type out there. The oil’s main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein (a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from the harmful oxidation)
🧐🤩 One study showed that substances in olive oil can reduce the expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation❗️
When people hear the word “fat” the first thing they do is run away 😱🤣, but fat is essential for us, I’m talking about the “good” fats. We should NOT be afraid of this word when it comes to unsaturated fats! Most of the fat contained in olives/olive oil is oleic acid, which is a type of monounsaturated fatty acid ✅👩🏻⚕️🩺 (don’t sweat 😅- that’s the good type 😂)
Oleic acid is linked to several health benefits, including decreased inflammation, a reduced risk of heart disease and it may even help to fight cancer❗️
🧐 A 2018 study of almost 26,000 women found that the Mediterranean diet could cut the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 28% compared with a control diet. 28%, 😳 that’s huge, no?! Remember that Mediterranean diet is all about swapping unhealthful fats, such as the trans fats and saturated fats that are present in butter and margarine, with healthful (unsaturated) fats, such as the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are found in olives and olive oil 🤗.
- 🧐 A 2016 study found that eating more monosaturated fat reduced the risk of premature death due to disease compared with eating more carbs! See!… healthy fats over carbs any day! ✅
- 🫀The American Heart Foundation also state that monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on heart health (when a person consumes them in moderation of course!)
Vitamins and Minerals 💪🏼
- Vitamin E- a very powerful antioxidant, mainly helps to protect our body cells from damage 🛡
- Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene- important for healthy eyes, a properly functioning immune system and red blood cell production 👀 + 🩸
- Vitamin K- primary function of vitamin K is to ensure normal blood clotting. It’s also important for sufficient bone density, as it helps our bodies to use calcium well 🩸+ 🦴 (by the way leafy green vegetables are the richest sources of this vitamin 🥦🥬🥒🫑)
- Vitamin C- an antioxidant that helps the body produce and repair tissues, including skin, collagen, tendons and blood vessels 💪🏼💁🏻♀️
- B- Complex Vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) & B9 (folic acid/folate). The most prevalent B vitamin in olives is niacin, which is important for hormone production
- Iron- important for your red blood cells to transport oxygen 🩸
- Copper- unfortunately this essential mineral is often lacking in the typical Western diet
- Calcium- essential for bone, muscle, and nerve function 🦴 + 💪🏼 + 🧠
- and of course Sodium- Most olives contain high amounts of salt, since they’re packaged in brine or saltwater 🧂
Therefore olives have that downside, as does everything really… 🤷🏻♀️ perhaps we have to look at the benefits 🆚 the disadvantages? Over time, excess levels of salt in the body can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke (cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases). Increased salt intake can be harmful, especially if we have certain health conditions, so we definitely should eat olives in moderation, I think that’s the key with everything in life: EVERYTHING IN MODERATION! 🤷🏻♀️❓
There’s about 0.5g salt per five olives. The NHS/HSE recommends eating no more than 6g of salt if you’re an adult, and between 2g-5g a day for children depending on their age. However, there are some varieties of olives that don’t need processing, and can be consumed when fully ripe. That would require an olive tree in your back garden- which I’m afraid is impossible in Ireland 🇮🇪😔🤷🏻♀️
“All things in moderation, including moderation”
As I’m on the subject of some downsides it’s appropriate to mention that processing and canning can also introduce a carcinogenic substance called acrylamide into olives.
Allergy to both olive pollen and the proteins found in the fruit and its oil are possible, but rare, they can cause respiratory reactions, skin reactions such as hives, and food allergy symptoms.
Olives may also contain some heavy metals and minerals, however the amount of these metals in olives is generally well below the legal limit. Therefore, this fruit is considered safe ✅👍🏼
🫒 Health Benefits 🫒
Supporting Heart Health
Oleic acid (the main fatty acid in olives) is associated with improved heart health, as it may regulate cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that both olives and olive oil may decrease blood pressure. 🧐 One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly, and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48% 🤩. 🧐 Many of animal and human studies have shown that olive oil has major benefits for the heart. In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have, or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets. Olives also contain quercetin-a nutrient that may lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Boosting Brain Health
Olives contain vitamin E, and high levels of this vitamin play a role in better cognitive performance. Also, it has a key role in protecting cells from oxidative stress, protecting the brain 🛡, unfortunately our brain is highly sensitive to cell damage, so we have to protect it!
Diets high in olive oil have also been associated with reduced rates of Alzheimer’s disease 🤓🔬, again brain 🧠!
What’s really interesting is that rates of osteoporosis are lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe, leading to speculation that olives might protect against this disease, knowing that Mediterranean diet is so rich in olives, olive oil and other foods 🐟 .I’m sure that their dairy intake doesn’t differ much. Anyway dairy 🥛 for strong bones 🦴 is OLD (false) news! 🙄
🧐🤩 Some of the plant compounds found in olives and olive oil have been shown to help prevent bone loss in animal studies.
Again olives and olive oil are commonly consumed in the Mediterranean region, where rates of cancer and other chronic diseases are lower than in other Western countries- this may be partly due to their high antioxidant and oleic acid contents? 🤷🏻♀️
🧐 Studies revealed that these compounds disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells, however this interesting hypothesis is still wide open to further research…
Eating olives could help in keeping the “good” bacteria in our bodies healthy and happy 😊. Because olives are pickled in order to make them tastier to eat, they have some of the probiotic qualities of other fermented foods. Their low carbohydrate content is mostly fibre, which as we all know is great for our gut health! WIN WIN 💪🏼
Blood Sugar Regulation
Research shows that consuming foods high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which are both present in olives in high amounts, may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. I didn’t randomly choose the image above, I specifically chose it because cinnamon is probably the best known spice that helps to regulate blood glucose levels, helping to fight diabetes by imitating the effects of insulin, and increasing glucose transport into cells. It can also help lower blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, making insulin more efficient at moving glucose into cells.
🧐 One study showed that taking cinnamon increased insulin sensitivity immediately after consumption, with the effect lasting at least 12 hours- that’s why it’s smart to sprinkle your desserts with it before consuming 🍮
- The glycemic index (GI) of a food is an indicator of how much and how fast a food raises your blood sugar- olives would be classified as low GI foods, because of their low content of sugars (0%), carbs and proteins. Another good reason to include them in the diet 💪🏼
I should probably start with antioxidants as the main health benefit of olives, as they are mostly based on their abundance of phytonutrients, particularly those which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as oleupurin. These powerful antioxidants include flavanoids, phenols, terpenes, and anthocyanidans. Remember antioxidants from my previous post on dark chocolate?! 🍫🤓
🧐 Dietary antioxidants have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer (as mentioned previously) to having some anti microbial properties too!
What is a healthy portion ⁉️
15-20g, which is about four to five olives per adult. Colour doesn’t really matter, personally my favourite are green Sicilian Nocellara Olives with a stone. I wouldn’t really worry about green 🆚 black olives being healthier, or any better than the other. I didn’t come across any research suggesting that one is better than the other.
However I have some advice: Always read the label❗️, just to make sure there are no added extras such as; sugar or artificial flavourings, for example 👎🏼. This doesn’t only apply to shopping for olives, but grocery shopping overall 🛒! ALWAYS READ THE LABEL‼️
Can I use olive oil to cook⁉️
A very common question, that I was always asking. I checked, and the answer is: YES! 👍🏼🤗. Olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (which have only one double bond), and is therefore fairly resistant to high heat 🔥👊🏼
🧐 In one study, researchers heated extra virgin olive oil to 180°C for 36 hours, and the oil was highly resistant to damage.
🧐 Another study used olive oil for deep-frying, and it took 24–27 hours for it to reach damage levels that were deemed as harmful.
Overall, olive oil seems to be very safe, even for cooking at fairly high heat! 🧑🍳
What’s the conclusion⁉️
Olives and their oil are a HUGE part of the Mediterranean diet, which can help people maintain a healthy weight, prevent some diseases, such as those related to heart 🫀, and just overall live longer. The diet includes foods that contain high levels of monounsaturated fats, which are healthful fats that can benefit heart health, but not only. Most articles would classify both olives and olive oil as a type of so called SuperFood 💪🏼❗️However, we have to remember that it is best to consume olives in moderation, as producers usually preserve them in brine that is high in salt, but as a fermented food, they contain probiotics too! They’re low in carbs but high in healthy fats, which I think is known as the way to go, and I humbly agree 👌🏼. What’s most important is that they’re available all year round!
Medical Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical doctor. By blogging I do not diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect a mental or physical health condition, please see your healthcare provider.
🦋 “Three things in life – your health, your mission, and the people you love” 🦋
🦋 A fit body 💪🏼, a calm mind🧘🏻♀️ , and a house full of love ❤️. These things cannot be bought – they must be earned 🦋
🐣 Warmest thoughts to you and your family on this holiday. Happy Easter! 🐣 ~Klaudia 💞