Are olives good for you?

 

We know that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is good for our health, but what about table olives? Are the whole olive fruits as good for you as the oil?

What are olives?

 

Edible olives are the fruit of the Olea europaea trees. There are many edible varieties of olives, which are fermented before being eaten. Olives contain a pip which is often removed during processing (pitted olives).

 

Are olives good to eat?

 

Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are one of the oldest fermented fruits. The fermentation process takes away the olives’ bitterness, making them enjoyable to eat as a snack or with a meal.

 

Although most of the research on olives’ health benefits has been on Extra Virgin Olive Oil, table olives can be just as good for you.

 

Olives are a good source of many nutrients that can help keep us healthy, including1

  • Monounsaturated fats (to help protect our heart)
  • Dietary fibre (for digestion and heart health)
  • Vitamin E (antioxidant to help reduce heart, cancer and diabetes risk)
  • Phenolic compounds chlorophyll and anthocyanins (antioxidants to help reduce heart, cancer and diabetes risk)

 

Because olives are fermented, they’re also an important source of probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that, if taken in enough amounts, can be beneficial to our health2.

 

Table olives have been found to contain lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus) and yeasts which are beneficial to our digestion and overall health3.

 

100g table olives (about 30 small to medium-sized olives) contains1

  • 753-1000kJ
  • 6-30g fat (67-82% monounsaturated fats)
  • 1-2.2g protein
  • 1.5-3g dietary fibre
  • Negligible carbohydrates
  • 3.75-5g sodium

 

How many olives should I eat a day?

 

Having 10-12 olives each day provides important antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation4.

 

However, olives processed using brine (salt solution) and so can be high in salt. Too much salt may increase blood pressure and heart disease risk. It’s essential to consider the amount of salt in all the foods you eat and count olives in with this.

 

What’s the difference between green and black olives?

 

Traditionally, olives are picked when they’re green. As they mature, the colour of the olive changes, and so does the nutritional content 1,4.

 

Green olives are:

  • Lower in Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Higher in chlorophyll and carotenoids

 

Black olives are:

  • Higher in Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Lower in chlorophyll and carotenoids
  • Higher in anthocyanins

 

What’s the best way to eat olives?

 

You can enjoy olives

  • As a side dish
  • As a snack with raw vegetables
  • In a salad
  • On a pizza

 

Try different types of olives

  • Black
  • Green
  • Kalamata
  • Queen

 

Stuffed with

  • Almonds
  • Garlic
  • Pimento pepper
  • Anchovy
  • Lemon

 

Read full article

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