Health Benefits of Olives
Savory, salty and delightfully piquant, olives are a staple in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet so often touted by health professionals and nutritionists.
Whether you enjoy them atop salads and pizza, as part of an antipasto platter or in the occasional martini at your senior living community happy hour, olives offer a surprising wealth of nutritional benefits.
Because olives have a pit, they are considered a fruit. You’ll find them in a range of colors from bright green to deep black depending on when they are picked in the ripening process. After harvesting, olives can be pressed to make olive oil or cured then marinated in a blend of oils and spices. They are then ready to serve up their many benefits which include:
- Low Calorie and Low Carb: Good news! You won’t increase your waistline by eating olives for 3.5 ounces of ripe canned olives contain only 113 to 145 calories, roughly 10 calories per olive with only 6 grams of carbs while offering .08 grams of protein and 1.6 grams of healthy fiber. So enjoy the tangy taste of olives guilt-free.
- 0 Grams of Sugar: If you’re diabetic or concerned about limiting sugar, you can blissfully snack on everything from Spanish to Kalamata olives without worrying about spiking your glucose levels.
- Rich in Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties: While 3.5 ounces of olives contains 10.9 grams of fat, 74% is from oleic acid, associated with decreased inflammation which can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and even help fight cancer. Olives are also chockful of antioxidant polyphenol compounds that help fight those same chronic illnesses as well as ease rheumatoid arthritis.
- Fermented Food Benefits: Olives are fermented which adds healthy enzymes and beneficial bacteria to your digestive tract, helping to boost your immune system.
- Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals: While some of these are added during processing, olives contain beneficial compounds like:
- Calcium. Essential for bone, muscle and nerve health, the calcium in olives provide a significant amount of this mineral in non-dairy form, especially helpful for the lactose-intolerant.
- Iron. Eating black olives is a tasty way to add of iron to your diet. This vital element helps your body make proteins that carry oxygen from the lungs to muscles and other parts of the body.
- Vitamin E. Thanks to its high antioxidant properties, Vitamin E is a nutrient found to protect skin from the UV rays that can cause skin cancer and premature aging.
- Copper. Frequently deficient in the diets of those living in the Western hemisphere, the copper in olives can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Bone Loss Prevention: Studies have found that the polyphenols in olives boost cellular secretion of the bone-strengthening material, serving as an effective aid in reducing the symptoms of osteoporosis.
- Weight Loss: Studies in Italy have concluded that if you eat just 10 olives before sitting down to a meal, it will reduce your appetite by 22%. The monounsaturated fatty acids in olives send a satiating signal to the brain that you are on your way to being full. Moreover, these acids promote the production of adiponectin which burns fat for 5 hours after you enjoy olives.
Balance these health benefits of adding olives to your diet against their high sodium content. Olives are generally preserved in brine or salt water, by its nature very high in sodium. So those with health concerns about salt intake or battling with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, be prudent about how many and what kind of olives you choose to eat.
If you’re on a low sodium diet but still want to enjoy this pickled pleasure, look for lower-sodium olives. You can even buy fresh olives from the local deli. Although they can be more expensive, these olives are typically less salty than their mass market counterparts. Plus they offer a wider variety of flavors.
If you’re looking for flavorful way to eat healthier, add olives or tapenades to your appetizer tray, pizza toppings, salads and sandwiches. They taste great and are good for you.
MorningStar Senior Living
If your loved one lives far from family and friends, it could be time to move into a senior living community near their adult children where they’ll have the companionship of fellow seniors and a compassionate service team. At MorningStar Senior Living, a 24/7 team is dedicated to offer care and hospitality services that meet each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.