Nutrition and Health Benefits of Olives

Olives are Full of Healthy Fats and Lower Risk of Heart Disease

The much-lauded Mediterranean diet promotes eating healthy fats, including olives, as well as olive oil. Fat does have more calories than carbohydrates or protein. But when it comes to heart health, the type of fat you eat is more important than the amount. These dark, meaty olives are a great source of healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fats (good fats) or MUFAs. Plenty of research has been done on MUFAs and their effect on heart health. According to a 2022 review in Foods, it leans toward MUFAs having a positive effect on blood lipid profiles, which include total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol and triglycerides. The predominant fatty acid in olives is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, making up 73% of the total oil content, followed by linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid. The remaining fat content 15% of the fat in olives is saturated fat and 11% is polyunsaturated--omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Mono-unsaturated fat in the diet increases good cholesterol and decreases high blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, or stroke. It may regulate cholesterol levels and protect the LDL-cholesterol from oxidation. When free radicals oxidize cholesterol, blood vessels are damaged and fat builds up in arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack.

In addition, oleuropein in kalamata olives has been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease. According to studies, it may protect against acute adriamycin cardiotoxicity (damage to the heart muscle) and reduce the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol.

High potassium levels in Kalamata olives assist in balancing sodium levels, thereby helping to regulate blood pressure and aiding in promoting heart health.

Improved Bone and connective tissue Health/ Olives May Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and bone quality. It can increase the risk of fractures.

The rates of osteoporosis are lower in Mediterranean countries than in other European countries, which has caused scientists to speculate that olives might be protective. Animal studies suggest the plant compounds in olives help prevent bone loss. Human studies on this are lacking, but the animal studies and the data linking the Mediterranean diet to decreased fracture rates are promising.

The anti-inflammatory abilities of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and polyphenols in black olives may also help dull the asperity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Most of the suffering in having one of these three bone maladies is brought about by high levels of free radicals.

Kalamata olives provide calcium, magnesium, and other minerals essential for maintaining strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. Studies have shown that kalamata olive oil can increase calcium absorption, which can help prevent loss of bone density or osteoporosis.

Olives are good for skin and hair health / Anti-Aging Effects

Beyond their antioxidant properties, which combat free radicals that cause aging, eating olives helps skin stay soft and healthy since they also contain vitamin E, vitamin A and oleic acid. The vitamin E content in Kalamata olives helps nourish the skin, promote elasticity, and protect against UV damage, thus guarding against skin cancer and premature aging. It can help keep the skin hydrated and minimize signs of aging. Oleuropein in kalamata olives also protects the skin from ultraviolet damage and fights free radical damage.

The vitamin E content in olives can also nourish your scalp and increase blood flow to it by aiding in the formation of new blood capillaries and it helps nourish hair follicles. Vitamin A balances the skin's pH which is essential for healthy, supple, and younger-looking skin.

Olives are one of Nature's brain food

Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduces oxidative stress in the brain. A 2013 study in mice showed that supplementation with olive polyphenols elevates levels of the proteins (known as neurotrophins) nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Both of these play a pivotal role in the growth, development, and survival of brain cells.

Olives Promote Good Eye Health

The vitamin A content in Kalamata olives supports good vision and helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. One cup of black olives contains ten percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A which, when converted into the retinal form, is crucial for healthy eyes. It enables the eye to better distinguish between light and dark, thereby improving night vision. Furthermore, Vitamin A is believed effective against cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other age-related ocular diseases.

Olives Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Olives contain the compound oleocanthal, which researchers have shown can kill cancer cells in petri dish experiments. Other studies in humans have shown a link between consuming olive oil and reducing the risk of cancers, including breast cancer.

Chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can be key factors in the development of cancer and if our cells get overwhelmed by these, our risk of cell cancer is increased. By providing us with rich supplies of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, olives can help us avoid this dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which can damage healthy cells and lead to cancer.

Olives and olive oil are commonly consumed in the Mediterranean region, where the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases is lower than in other European or American countries. It is possible that eating olives may help reduce the risk of cancer. High content of antioxidants and oleic acid in test-tube experiments have been shown to be able to disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the breast, colon and stomach.

Black olives are a great source of vitamin E, which has the brilliant 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. When such processes such as mitochondrial energy production are not well protected, the free radicals produced can cause oxidation, damaging a cell's mitochondria, and preventing the cell from producing enough energy to supply its needs. If the DNA of a cell is damaged, it may well mutate and become cancerous. Studies have shown that a diet supplemented with olive oil leads to a lower risk of colon cancer, almost as low a risk as a diet rich in fish oil.

Anti-Anxiety and Anti-Depressant Effects

The presence of certain compounds in Kalamata olives may help reduce anxiety symptoms and promote a calm state of mind. They may also contribute to improved mood and mental well-being.

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