Olives, that wonderful green item that sits in the refrigerator being forgotten about. I know in my house, there is always a small jar on the refrigerator shelf. Most of the family does not think about olives until the Holidays start approaching. However, did you know that olives are actually a very heart healthy food?
Another interesting point that we should make, olives are actually a fruit! Odd to hear, I know! When you consider that you go into a canned vegetable aisle to purchase them from a grocery store. They sit in a dish with pickles, like they are from the same food group or something.
However, no matter what you consider it, fruit or vegetable, olives are a superfood. Let me tell you some pertinent information about olives. Some of these may surprise you, some you may already have figured out. Green olives are so much more than just a food item that sits next to the pickles. What’s more is that Green olives do so much for you and your health.
1. Monounsaturated Fats
Green Olives are loaded with monounsaturated fats. These are the healthy fats that help to lower cholesterol levels. These good fats also help to maintain good cholesterol levels. There are also powerful antioxidants in these healthy little gems. The antioxidants help fight oxidative stress and also help to ease chronic inflammation.
The Vitamin E that is found in green olives is good for the bones, hair and teeth. Olive oil also helps to lower the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure.
2. Circulation Improves
There are plant based compounds within green olives that contain nitric oxide. This nitric oxide helps improve blood flow, vascular functions. The vascular functions help promote blood flow to all areas. Healthy circulation means healthier life. There are some olives that also contain Iron, iron is a necessary mineral that helps deliver oxygen throughout the whole body system.
Polyphenols that are in the different varieties of olives help to prevent chronic inflammation. Polyphenols help prevent damage to organ tissues before it starts. Polyphenols are one of the main focuses in the Mediterranean diet. These polyphenols can also help to improve bone density by reducing degeneration. All this means probable fewer fractures in older adults.
4. Brain Health
With the reduction of oxidative stress caused by inflammation, this means that the brain is also benefitting. The Vitamin E within olives also helps maintain and improve cognitive thinking and abilities. Olive Oil is believed to be a benefit if helping to reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s Disease.
5. Satiated Longer
Eating green olives as a snack has been shown to keep you full longer. This is due to the healthy fats in the olives. Eating a serving of green olives is also giving you a good dose of dietary fiber. However, for people who need to refrain from salt and sodium, they should rely on using Olive oil rather than eating olives.
6. Lower Risk of Cancer
Eating foods that have high levels of antioxidants can help lower your risk of certain cancers. This is due to protecting cellular DNA and the reduction of oxidative stress.
7. Lowers Blood Sugars
Olives, more so Extra Virgin Olive Oil, can help reduce blood sugars in a short amount of time. It is believed that by helping the insulin action, Olive Oil can reduce the amount of time it takes to lower a blood pressure spike.
8. Nutrient Absorption
When eaten with healthy fat foods like olives, the antioxidants found in many other fruits and vegetables help increase the intake of carotenoids. In turn, this benefits your eyes and your long term disease risks are lower.
9. Low in Cholesterol
Olives are one of the foods that are low in Cholesterol. They do have a high sodium level, some people would be better off using the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
10. Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Studies have shown that the women who partake in the Mediterranean Diet, have greatly reduced the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association has shown that monounsaturated fats can help to improve heart health. Green Olives have monounsaturated fats and this is why they are a big part of the Mediterranean Diet.
Nutrition in Olives
Also found in olives are copper, iron, Vitamin E and calcium. The sodium amount is one major fact that prevents the green olive from being a superfood. It has been shown that 90% of consumers consume too much sodium in their diets. This does not happen with those who routinely eat the Mediterranean diet.
It can be reiterated that those who do consume too high of sodium amounts, should also increase the amount of potassium rich foods. The rich potassium foods will help to balance out the sodium.
The Vitamin E found in Green olives can help reduce the chances of osteoporosis in many people. They are also shown to reduce the risk of some cancers.
Green Olives contain no sugar, they are 80% water and have only 115 calories in a serving size. Olives are also a very low carbohydrate food. Technically a fruit, green olives are most often used as a vegetable. Loaded with healthy fats that do the body good, olives can be used in sandwiches, eaten plain as a snack, added to salads or tossed into casseroles.
With five types of compounds in green olives, they are mostly antioxidants. These antioxidants are beneficial in helping the body in many ways. They can help reduce the chances of heart disease, reduce liver damage, regulate the fats in the body and reduce inflammation. Quercetin helps to lower blood pressure and promote a healthy heart.
For those who routinely consume a Mediterranean diet, chronic inflammation is greatly reduced. The antioxidants found in olives have been beneficial in reducing the effects of Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. There has been reduced chronic inflammation.
Raw olives are found to be quite bitter. They are very seldom eaten raw. Black olives have the lowest bitterness count. However, olives are processed to make them more palatable. They are most often fermented and then pickled. Green olives are the most common found pickled. Lactic acid is used in the fermentation process, this is a natural preservative that protects olives from forming harmful bacteria.
Current studies are being performed to determine if green olives have a probiotic effect on the digestive tract. Green olives are low in fiber content, however, so cannot be used as the sole source of dietary fiber. Also studies that are being performed to determine if green olives can help in preventing bone loss.
These studies do look promising thus far. What can be said is that in the countries where a Mediterranean diet is popular and most often eaten, there are far lower levels of osteoporosis.
In test tube cancer testing, antioxidants and oleic acid are shown to disrupt the growth of the cancer cells. However, none of this has been shown in human studies yet. Further testing will need to be done to determine if these two compounds work the same in humans as it does in test tubes.
Very seldom do we find allergies to green olives. Again, in raw form, most olives types are too bitter to eat. For this reason, they are processed using a fermentation method, then pickled. Actual allergy numbers pertaining to raw olives are not available. For those who do have sensitivity to green olives are found to have reactions in the throat or in the mouth.
Green olives do have a very high sodium amount. For this reason those who have cut down or eliminated sodium should not consume pickled olives. It is also believed that green olives, as well as others, contain small amounts of heavy metals. Lithium, sulfur, tin and boron can be harmful in high amounts and could also increase the risks of cancer.
As a result of processing, olives may contain high amounts of acrylamide. This has been linked to higher risks of cancer in some studies. Further testing is needed for verification.
Ultimately, green olives are well tolerated by the majority of people who eat them. They are low in carbohydrates, low in fiber, high in sodium but beneficial to our bodies and the vasulatory functions. This food is easy to incorporate into a daily healthy diet or as a snacking item. As with all foods, moderation is key.
It would be great to be able to open a book and find the perfect diet that works for all people. For now, the Mediterranean diet is as close to perfect as has been found so far. It is recommended that if the need for oil is there, replacing all oils with extra virgin olive oil will assist in improving the health of most individuals.
For now, it is evident that olives eaten in moderation, have shown to have many benefits when it comes to the heart, circulatory system and helping reduce risks of chronic diseases.