Pretty much everyone likes olives. They are delicious and are used in a multitude of dishes. However, beyond their appetizing taste, olives also offer a wide range of health benefits. Indeed, although there are hundreds of varieties of olives, they all have in common characteristics and nutrients that are essential for the body.

Green or black, olives are a natural source of antioxidants thanks to the presence of polyphenols in their composition. In particular, they help to regulate bad cholesterol levels in the body thanks to their high content of Omega 3.

Olives are also credited with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and even anti-cancer properties.

Let’s take a look together at what all that olives have to offer.

Olives Nutrition

Green olivesBlack olives
Nutritional value per 100g154 Kcal143 Kcal
Proteins1,1 g0,6 g
Carbohydrates0 g0,075 g
Fat16,3 g15,4
saturated3,23 g2,7
monounsaturated11 g11
polyunsaturated1,4 g0,85
Cholesterol0,2 g0,25
Dietary fiber2,6 d2,6 g
Sodium1,5 g0,77 g

Benefits of olives

Good for the eyes

For starters, olives are healthy for the eyes. Olives contain quite a lot of vitamin A. A small cup of olives contains about ten percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. After vitamin A is converted in the body, it contributes to night vision and promotes the distinction between light and dark.

This also applies to olive oil. A US study on the influence of olive oil on the eye disease AMD (age-related macular degeneration) has shown that a tablespoon of olive oil a day reduces the risk of this by fifty percent. In addition, vitamin A also has a positive effect on cataracts and glaucoma.

Natural anti-inflammatories

Both olives and olive oil and olive leaf are natural anti-inflammatories. Therefore, they are also used in the treatment of bronchitis, sore throat, tonsillitis, tooth infections, candida, shingles, and even herpes.

In addition to their natural anti-inflammatory properties, olives are also natural painkillers. Research into the strength of the analgesic effect of olives has shown that fifty grams of olives or four tablespoons of olive oil are equal to ibuprofen. However, contrary to the latter, olives have no side effects.

Reduces the risk diabetes

One of the main reasons why olive oil is healthy is because it consists of unsaturated fats. This reduces the risk of both diabetes and obesity.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has conducted a comprehensive study of the effect of olive oil on type 2 diabetes patients. This study lasted 22 years and involved women of two different age groups.

The study found that women who used olive oil were less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than women who did not. This also applies to the use of olive oil instead of margarine, butter, or other fats.

Lowers blood pressure

Several studies have shown that olive oil and therefore olives have the ability to increase good HDL cholesterol in the body. In addition, unlike other fats, they do not damage your arteries. The study also showed that olive oil is a natural blood pressure lowering agent.

In addition, olives and olive oil have an inhibitory effect on cardiovascular inflammation.        

Prevents cancer

There have been quite a few studies on the anti-cancer effects of olives. They have shown that the phenolic compounds in olives inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In addition, olives have also been proven to have one of the most powerful cancer-fighting properties. This is also one of the main reasons why people around the Mediterranean are much less likely to suffer from cancer.

Natural probiotics

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that olives have the same effect as probiotics. They cause an increase in good bacteria in our intestines, which in turn promote digestion and good bowel movement. This probiotic property of olives is due to its content of phenol compounds.

Promotes weight loss

Olives contain single, unsaturated fats. These fats have been shown to stimulate weight loss. When olive oil is used, the breakdown of fats in fat cells is stimulated. In addition, olive oil will quickly make you feel full, so you will eat less.

Indeed, in people who consume olive oil, blood tests have shown that they have a high serotonin level. Serotonin is a satiety hormone. This means that they will feel full faster than people with lower serotonin levels. Healthy weight loss is therefore possible with olives and olive oil.

Good for the skin

The reason why olives are healthy for the skin is that they are incredibly high in antioxidants and fatty acids. The elements nourish and cleanse the skin. One of the most important antioxidants in olives is vitamin E. Vitamin E offers us skin protection against all kinds of dangers such as ultraviolet radiation.

As a result, olives and olive oil also prevent skin aging and skin cancer. A sufficient vitamin E intake is therefore important for young and healthy skin!

Prevents and fights iron-deficiency anemia

Furthermore, olives are healthy for people with anemia. One of the main causes of anemia is iron deficiency. Olives are rich in iron and can therefore both reduce the risk of anemia and fight the disease.

Indeed, olives contain 3.3 mg of iron per 100 grams. The recommended daily intake of iron for people between the age of 19 to 50 is 8 mg for men and 18 mg for women. Therefore, eating olives is a great way to replenish your iron reserves.

Learn more about iron-rich foods in the article.          

Fights constipation

Olives are also known for their positive effects on constipation. If you suffer from constipation, then olive oil might be the solution for you. Furthermore, olive oil has no side effects as opposed to medication. It softens the stool, making it easier to get out. To do this, take a tablespoon of olive oil in the morning until the constipation is gone.

A potent sunscreen

Do you want to get a nice even tan? Then use olive oil. Already in the time of the ancient Greeks, olive oil was used as a natural and healthy sunscreen. Today, many Spaniards prefer olive oil to other sunscreens.

Olive oil also prevents dehydration of the skin.

In addition, it also helps to prevent itching. This can be very useful for people with skin conditions such as eczema or allergic rash.

Good for the joints

Olives contain various substances that have a beneficial effect on our joints. Think of oleic acid and phenols. Both substances have been investigated and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. There is also evidence that phenols can help reduce cartilage and bone breakdown.

There are even studies showing that eating olives can provide protection against rheumatoid arthritis. Other natural products that can help with joint complaints are turmeric, cherries, pomegranate, and cocoa.

Can help to reduce allergic reactions

A study published in Immunobiology has shown that the antioxidant hydroxytyrosol in olive oil extract plays an important role in helping to counteract allergic reactions.

Research has also shown that a high intake of olive oil may have some protective effects on asthma and allergic symptoms in childhood.

Use olive oil as the basis of dressings for healthy salads to take advantage of this protective effect.

Supports the health of our cells

Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. Olives are a rich source of antioxidants. For example, black olives contain a lot of vitamin E, which can help reduce the risk of cell damage.

The oleic acid in olives also supports the health of our cells. It can help prevent cells from behaving differently than intended. In addition, oleic acid acts as a purifier, which contributes to the reduction of cell damage by free radicals.

The terpenoids and the squalene in olives can also contribute to healthy cells.

Difference between black and green olives

Whether green or black, olives are the same fruit and come from the same tree: the olive tree. In fact, the color difference is exclusively based on the time they picked. The green is picked before maturity, between September and November. The black one is harvested in December and January. In other words, black olives are simply green olives that have ripened.

Can pregnant women eat olives

Olives are very safe to consume throughout pregnancy. However, before consuming them, we suggest that you take a few precautions.

Toxoplasmosis is the sole danger of eating fruits while pregnant. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite found in the soil and hence on plants. The majority of women have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis and have acquired antibodies to it. However, as a precaution, it is recommended to always wash your olives to make sure that you don’t ingest the parasite.

Nonetheless, if you have any doubts, talk to your doctor.

Who should not eat olives and olive oil?

Olives contain quite a lot of sodium. Sodium is of course an important mineral and is necessary for the body. However, too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. This is particularly the case for people who consume a lot of salt from other food sources. So, if you know that you use a lot of salt or consume a lot of salty foods, be careful with the number of olives you eat.

Erica Delaney

An experienced nurse, Erica focuses on subjects related to pregnancy and infant health. She enjoys dancing and playing the piano in her free time.