Olives have been beloved additions to meals for centuries, and for a good reason. These tiny fruits are incredibly healthy and can offer a ton of wonderful benefits to the mind and body. The following will examine some of the many positive effects of including more olives in your day-to-day life.

What Are Olives

Olives are fruits from the drupe (stone fruit) family that come from the olive tree (Olea europaea), which grows in the Mediterranean Basin, China, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, India, and The United States.

Olives are part of many culturally based cuisines, especially in the Mediterranean area. The three most popular types of olives (there are many types) include green, black, and kalamata.

These fruits are commonly sliced up or used whole in recipes. They can also be pressed into olive oil, which has endless versatility when it comes to cooking and preparing meals. There’s that one friend who can never have enough olives and eats them straight out of the jar; this is a fine way to get all their benefits. Olives make a perfect snack for kids as an addition to school lunches (or adult work lunches). They can also be sprinkled on nearly any savory meal you can think of. Olive oil can be added to any salad or cooked meal to increase its healthiness.

Olives Are Full Of Vitamins

Olives, like many fruits, have vitamins and minerals that offer many different health benefits. In particular, olives have lots of vitamin E, which helps improve skin clarity, texture, and regeneration, as well as supports our immune system. They also make great sources of Vitamin A, copper, calcium, iron (which people are chronically deficient in), and sodium (if packed in brine or saltwater).

Despite Being Fruits, Olives Are Low In Carbohydrates

They are also an extremely low-carb fruit with carbohydrates making up between 4-6% of an olive. And the majority of these carbs are fiber (52-86%).

Olives Are High In Healthy Fats

Unusual for fruits (excluding avocados and a few other exceptions), olives also have lots of healthy fats in them, which offer a whole second range of positive health impacts. They’re made up of about 11-15% fat; 74% of this fat is oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fatty acid (and the main ingredient in olive oil).

Olives Are Compound-Rich

In addition to the vitamins, low carbs, and healthy fats, olives have some wonderful compounds and antioxidants. They are abundant in oleuropein which has many health benefits, hydroxytyrosol which is a potent antioxidant, tyrosol, which is an antioxidant linked with preventing heart disease, oleanolic acid (an antioxidant that may help prevent damage to the liver, regular blood fats, and reduce inflammation, and quercetin which is a nutrient that might lower blood pressure and support heart health. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of several chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants achieve these results through a variety of processes like reducing inflammation (which also reduces many types of pain) and combatting microorganism growth.

Supports Heart Health

Olives, especially in the form of olive oil, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as lower the risk of mortality in people who are already suffering from or have greater chances of developing the condition. Oleic acid, in particular, is associated with improved heart health, and this is thought to be because it regulates cholesterol levels and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Studies have also linked olives and olive oil to reduce blood pressure which has many other heart health benefits.

Lowers Risks Of Cancer

Within olives and olive oil is a compound called oleocanthal which has been shown to kill cancer cells. In particular, the antioxidants found in olive oil and olives have been shown to disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the stomach, colon, and breast within test tubes.

Cognitive Support

The oleocanthal mentioned above has also been linked to a reduction in risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain-degenerative diseases and conditions. Again, oleic acid reduces inflammation, and this is linked to cognition.

Diabetes Prevention

Because of the high good fat content, olives have also been shown to prevent type 2 diabetes because they can help regulate sugar (glucose) levels. The healthy fats in olives and olive oil have also been linked to lower body weight and lower body mass indexes which are tied to diabetes.

Linked To Reducing Osteoporosis And Improved Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a condition whereby bone mass and quality are decreased; it results in an increased risk for fractures. Mediterranean populations have much lower rates of osteoporosis, and it is thought that olives play a major role in this, especially since compounds in olives and olive oil have been found to prevent bone loss in animal studies.

Bonus: They Can Help During Dietary Lifestyle Changes

Many people struggle to make the switch between the modern American diet full of processed and pre-packaged foods to one that is based on plants and healthy non-commercial meat products. Because pre-packaged, highly processed foods are fantastic at tricking our bodies into thinking they’re getting everything they need for the first half an hour to an hour after eating, many people can feel hungry during the transition. Olives are full of healthy fats, which, again, help you feel full (and actually be full) longer.

They also can help keep the brain fog at bay when you go into sugar withdrawal, which is a real thing. If you’re noticing intense cravings for sweets or carbohydrates like chips or pasta, depressed feelings, and irritability, this could be sugar withdrawal. Doing research regarding withdrawal symptoms can help you mentally work around them until they pass. They do pass.

The above information has hopefully drawn your attention to some of the wonderful benefits of including more olives in your life. As with any and all plant foods, it’s a good idea to research the company that provided them and their stance on pesticides and genetically modified foods. This is especially important if you’re going to be eating large quantities of something.