Olives are a cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine, but if there’s one country that knows how to use them to their full potential, it’s Italy. Pressed for their oil, eaten on their own or incorporated into all sorts of olive recipes, it seems everything but the stone can be used in one way or another.
Olives themselves – whether black or green – are full of salty, sharp flavours, transforming humdrum dishes into something special. Apart from scattering them over pizza, they work very well in pasta sauces, such as "Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca"
Olives are linked with many health benefits, especially for heart health and cancer prevention. The healthy fats in olives are extracted to produce olive oil, one of the key components of the incredibly healthy Italian diet.
Here are some of the health benefits of olives and reasons to include them in your diet:
Dietary antioxidants have been revealed to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Olives are rich in antioxidants, with health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation to reducing microorganism growth. One study presented that eating a pulpy residue from olives significantly increased blood levels of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body.
Improved heart health
High blood cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease.
Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olives, is associated with improved heart health. It may regulate cholesterol levels and protect LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation. Besides, some studies show that olives and olive oil may reduce blood pressure.
Improved Bone Health
Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and bone quality. It can increase your risk of fractures. The ratios of osteoporosis are lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe, leading to speculation that olives might protect against this condition.
Some of the plant compounds found in olives and olive oil have been shown to help prevent bone loss in animal studies.
In the Mediterranean region, ratios of cancer and other chronic diseases are lower than in other Western countries as olives and olive oil are frequently consumed there. Thus, it’s possible that olives may help reduce your risk of cancer.
This may be partially due to their high antioxidant and oleic acid contents. Test-tube studies reveal that these compounds interrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the breast, colon, and stomach.
One olive only has about 7 calories. They have a ‘negative calorie load’, which means you burn more calories digesting an olive that you gain eating one.
Despite the common misperception, olives are not fattening. They contain monounsaturated fat, the same good fat you find in nuts and avocados. Mono-unsaturated fat in the diet increases good cholesterol. In research studies, when diets increased monounsaturated fat (without becoming too high in total fat), participants experienced a decrease in their blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and LDL: HDL ratio. All of this lowers the risk of heart disease. Good fat!
Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduce oxidative stress in the brain. By eating a daily serving of healthy olives, you can help improve your memory. We hope you’d remember that!
Eating healthy olives helps skin stay soft and healthy along with improving the appearance of wrinkles by 20% since they contain oleic acid. Eat olives = stay good-looking.
By eating just 10 olives before a meal, you can reduce your appetite by up to 20%. This is because the monounsaturated fatty acids present in healthy olives slow down the digestion process and stimulate the hormone cholecystokinin, which sends the message of fullness and satisfaction to the brain.
Olives oil contain oleocanthal, a substance with anti-inflammatory agents that can act as a natural Ibuprofen.
Olives are a great source of vitamin E, which has the ability to neutralize free radicals in body fat. Especially when working with the stable monounsaturated fats found in olives, vitamin E can make cellular processes safer. If the DNA of a cell is damaged, it can mutate and become cancerous. Studies have shown that a diet supplemented with olives and olive oil leads to a lower risk of colon cancer, almost as low a risk as a diet rich in fish oil.
Black olives are a great source of iron, which is important for your red blood cells to transport oxygen. Just one cup of olives gives us 4.4mg of iron.
Olives are a good source of copper. This essential mineral often lacks in the typical Western diet. Copper deficiency may increase your risk of heart disease.
The most abundant mineral in your body, which is essential for bone, muscle, and nerve function is present in olives.
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Source(s): healthline, olivemypickle, health24, servingjoy, Great Italian Chefs