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Olives are small fruits that grow from olive trees. They’re a stone fruit that’s categorized as a drupe and are related to mangoes, peaches, and pistachios. Delicious atop salads, in sandwiches, as spreads, and made into olive oil, there are many enjoyable ways to consume olives. Notably, olives grow in green and black varieties and can be bought and eaten fresh or packaged. Best of all, olives have both well-known and overlooked health benefits. Read on to hear about the wonderful ways consuming olives might improve your life.
Important Note: Although all of the claims asserted herein are backed by the most current research at the time of publication, science evolves. Be sure to seek the most up-to-date research if you’re checking in far beyond publication.
Packed With Nutrients
Olives are tasty, antioxidant-rich fruits that are packed with beneficial nutrients. For starters, a serving of about 10 olives contains just 60 calories and 8 grams of fat. Low in calories and rich in healthy fat, olives are a great snack to incorporate into your weight-loss or management routine. Speaking of olives’ fat content, they’re fraught with a monosaturated fat called oleic acid which is good for decreased inflammation, a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, and a lower risk for certain cancers. Furthermore, olives are a low-carbohydrate, vitamin-rich fruit. Concerning vitamins and minerals, olives are a great source of vitamin E, copper, iron, calcium, and sodium, each of which has its own noteworthy health benefits. Finally, olives contain other beneficial plant compounds that are good for preventing liver damage, cancer prevention, lowering blood pressure, and anti-inflammation. Some of these plant compounds include oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleanolic acid, and quercetin.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Olives are a highly nutritious fruit as they are packed with antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.
Improves Heart Health
Without a doubt, regulated blood pressure and cholesterol are integral to heart health. The primary healthy fat found in olives is oleic acid; this fat is scientifically connected to improved cardiovascular health. Notably, oleic acid has been found to manage cholesterol levels and protect bad cholesterol from being oxidized. Lastly, some studies indicate that both whole olives and olive oil may reduce one’s blood pressure. As such, including olives in your diet may have some important benefits to your heart health.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While there isn’t a ton of research on how olives manage cholesterol, the current research is promising. However, there’s an abundance of research concluding that olives can successfully reduce blood pressure.
Good For Bone Health
While it’s a young line of inquiry, recent studies suggest that regular consumption of olives may reduce one’s risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. The theory surrounding this query is that instances of bone disease in Mediterranean cultures, where olives are a diet staple, are much lower than in other countries. Several animal and test-tube studies support the claim that olives may protect against bone disease. A handful of scientific studies indicate that the plant compounds contained in olives prevent bone loss while other studies show that such compounds reduce the occurrence of bone fractures.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of studies connecting olives to bone health; although the conclusions drawn in these early studies are promising, more research is warranted.
May Prevent Cancer
Similar to how research on the relationship between bone health and olives began, the research on olives as a cancer preventative was born because of lower incidences of cancer in people consuming a Mediterranean diet. Research shows that subjects living in the Mediterranean have a much lower risk of a cancer diagnosis than their Western counterparts. Studies in their infancy, both test-tube and observational studies, suggest that the antioxidant and oleic acid content in olives may explain the difference in cancer diagnoses between Mediterranean and Western people. Furthermore, these cancer-preventing compounds have been shown to extinguish cancer cells in the colon, breasts, and stomach.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While much of the research surrounding olives and cancer is limited, the studies that do exist are inarguable; more research is needed, however.
Good For the Brain
Olives are rife with polyphenols, an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and free radicals in the brain. Significantly, scientific studies show that the polyphenols in olives maximize neurotrophins which are proteins in the brain that play an integral part in the growth, development, and functionality of brain cells. Scientists suggest that a daily serving of olives can improve your cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. A respectable number of studies indicated that the polyphenols in olives are beneficial to brain health, stimulation, and functionality.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
May Regulate Appetite
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. A few Italian studies suggest that the unsaturated fats in olives transform into a chemical that may reduce appetite and improve satiety, however, only a few scientific studies support this claim domestically.
May Improve Gut Health
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although olives are indeed a good source of probiotics, more than a serving of olives is required to reap such benefits.