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The top 5 benefits of table olives

The top 5 benefits of table olives

Many health professionals (and members of the public) have a good understanding of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, but less is known about the humble table olive.  Table olives are olive varieties that are grown to be used as a food, rather than turned into oil.  They are used frequently in Mediterranean cuisines, and can be eaten as a snack, or used in recipes to provide additional flavour and texture.  Table olives share some of the same health benefits as extra virgin olive oil, however they also differ in key areas.  Read on to find out the top 5 benefits of table olives.

1. Table olives contain healthy fats:

Like extra virgin olive oil, table olives have a healthy fat profile, with most of the fats being unsaturated.  More specifically, around 75% of the fats in table olives are healthy monounsaturated fats1.  They contain only moderate amounts of saturated fat (roughly 13%) and smaller amounts of polyunsaturated fat (around 10%)1.  Monounsaturated fats are considered to be ‘healthy fats’, with studies consistently showing increased intakes to be associated with benefits for cardiovascular health and markers of cardiovascular health such as improvements in blood cholesterol and blood pressure2,3.

2. Table olives contain antioxidants and polyphenols:

Again, like extra virgin olive oil, table olives contain unique antioxidants that have powerful health benefits.  There are a number of different types of antioxidants in table olives, including vitamin E and polyphenols4.  Antioxidants are important in the body as they can help combat the damage caused by free radicals, which in turn helps protect against the development of diseases such as heart disease5.

3. Fermented table olives contain probiotics:

Since olives are very bitter when raw, they generally undergo fermentation in order to make them more palatable.  This fermentation process not only removes the strong bitter flavour, but also leads to the formation of probiotics in the olives6. Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for gut health, as they are good bacteria that can improve the microbiome6.

4. Table olives are part of the Mediterranean diet:

Along with being healthy in their own right, olives are also a key part of the well-researched Mediterranean diet.  This eating pattern has been shown to be beneficial in the prevention and management of a number of different health concerns, such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, mental health and weight control7,8

5. Table olives are a versatile culinary ingredient:

Along with their health benefits, olives also have multiple culinary benefits. They are incredibly versatile and can be eaten on their own or used as a cooking ingredient or garnish.  Different olive varieties will provide different flavours, ranging from salty to mild, further adding to their versatility.  They can be enjoyed as canapes or antipasti, added to sauces and stews, used in salads and on pizzas, and even in bread and in drinks!

View article references

  1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Australian Food Composition Database - Release 2.0. Canberra ACT, Food Standards Australia New Zealand; 2022
  2. Alonso A, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Martínez-González MA. Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and blood pressure: epidemiological, clinical and experimental evidence. Public Health Nutr. 2006 Apr;9(2):251-7. doi: 10.1079/phn2005836.
  3. Grundy SM. Monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol metabolism: implications for dietary recommendations. J Nutr. 1989 Apr;119(4):529-33. doi: 10.1093/jn/119.4.529
  4. Lanza B, Ninfali P. Antioxidants in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Table Olives: Connections between Agriculture and Processing for Health Choices. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Jan 2;9(1):41. doi: 10.3390/antiox9010041.
  5. Better Health Channel. Antioxidants [Internet]. Victoria (AU): Better Health Channel. [Updated 2022; cited 2023 Dec 15]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants
  6. Perpetuini G, Prete R, Garcia-Gonzalez N, Khairul Alam M, Corsetti A. Table Olives More than a Fermented Food. Foods. 2020 Feb 12;9(2):178. doi: 10.3390/foods9020178
  7. Dinu M, Pagliai G, Casini A, Sofi F. Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jan;72(1):30-43. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2017.58
  8. Poulimeneas D, Anastasiou CA, Santos I, Hill JO, Panagiotakos DB, Yannakoulia M. Exploring the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and weight loss maintenance: the MedWeight study. Br J Nutr. 2020 Oct 28;124(8):874-880. doi:10.1017/S0007114520001798.