The health benefits of olives are usually attributed to their healthy fats, but when fresh, olives are also very beneficial, preventing the development of many chronic diseases.
Olives are the fruit of the olive tree native to the Mediterranean and are now cultivated in other parts of the world. The olive fruit is a drupe that is green when young and black and purple when fully ripe. It consists of three parts: a thin, smooth skin, fleshy flesh of various textures (from soft to hard) and a stone. The pulp of the fruit is rich in lipids, the concentration of which increases with ripening.
Many varieties of olives are used to make olive oil, but here we will focus on varieties that can be eaten raw, green, and ripe.
Olives can be classified in this way:
1) green olives, which are harvested before they are fully ripe, they have firm flesh and green color;
2) black olives, which are harvested when fully ripe, have softer flesh than green olives and are black or purple in color.
Olives are rich in fats, especially omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids. Olives are excellent sources of minerals (potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron), vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamins E, D and K), polyphenol antioxidants, flavonoids and fiber. Olives in brine are high in sodium.
Benefit for health
Thanks to their high content of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, olives are very beneficial for health, especially for heart health.
Cholesterol. The monounsaturated fats and polyphenols found in olives prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and therefore have a remarkable protective and preventive effect against atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack.
Antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Polyphenols, vitamin E and beta-carotene are the most important antioxidant substances found in olives.
The antioxidant activity of polyphenols is of particular importance: by fighting free radicals, they help prevent cancer, premature aging, heart disease, and many other types of degenerative and chronic diseases.
Bone health. Olives are rich in vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, which play a critical role in bone growth, repair and prevention of rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
Heart health. In addition to their anti-cholesterol effect, polyphenols have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, preventing blood clots and improving heart function.
Cleansing effect. Olives improve the functioning of the liver and intestines, due to their high fiber content they help cleanse the colon, and also prevent constipation. All these effects lead to detoxification of the entire body.
restorative properties. Due to their high mineral content, olives are an excellent natural alternative to multi-mineral supplements used to give the body more energy and nutrients.
Skin health. Antioxidants are known to have a beneficial effect on skin health, as they help prevent the damaging effects of free radicals on skin tissues. Olives also contain relatively high amounts of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, and vitamin E, which play an important role in stimulating skin regeneration and providing protection. Therefore, olives contribute to healthy, smooth and youthful skin.
Vision. The vitamins contained in olives are of great importance for normal vision, especially in low light, as well as for eye health.
Olives can be used to prepare various dishes. They can be eaten raw, on their own or in salads, or they can be used to make sauces and garnish second courses. Olives can even be fried and stuffed. Olive pâté (green or black olive paste) pairs deliciously with bread, crackers and raw vegetables.
Raw olives are very bitter, so they are sometimes soaked in a concentrated salt solution, making them a very salty food. People with high blood pressure should prefer canned olives.