Olives belong to a class of fruits called ‘drupes’ (which are fleshy and stoned), and they make a tasty, savory appetizer or salad ingredient. Meanwhile, they also provide you with a host of important nutrients that can boost your general health. You may be wary of their fat content, but (as you will see below), part of their goodness comes directly from that fat content.
Here are nine of the most powerful and interesting health benefits of olives that come with adding more olives to your diet.
1. They could combat inflammation
As you might already know, olives are often part of alternative remedies for inflammatory diseases, and this approach now has some modern scientific backing. Specifically, the particular polyphenols in olives can reduce CRP (C-reactive protein) levels, and lower CRP levels indicate lower levels of bodily inflammation. In fact, CRP is considered an important measurement for arthritis activity.
2. They protect against ulcers
Olives have antimicrobial properties that help to combat the common H. pylori bacterium responsible for the majority of painful stomach ulcers. Further, tests on the powers of the polyphenols found in health benefits of olives show that at least eight different bacteria that might damage the digestive system, and some of these bacteria are even demonstrably resistant to strong antibiotics.
3. They may cut cancer risk
Olives are packed full of cancer-fighting ingredients. Perhaps most significantly, they contain triterpene phytonutrients that are proven to inhibit breast cancer development by interrupting cell cycles. In addition, they are an excellent source of vitamin E, which studies show is particularly helpful in reducing the likelihood of bladder cancer.
For example, one study found that people who consumed vitamin E had almost half the bladder cancer risk of those who had the lowest vitamin E intake. There is also promising new research suggesting a reduction in colon cancer risk.
4. They provide you with plenty of iron
A single serving of olives contains about 25% of your recommended daily intake of iron, which your body needs to generate hemoglobin. Without adequate iron, your blood does not carry the appropriate amount of oxygen to your major organs, and anemia develops.
Meanwhile, iron also plays key roles in cognitive function and immune system strength, so you have plenty of reasons to make sure you’re getting the right amount.
5. They can aid weight loss
The aforementioned vitamin E content of olives could also help you to lose weight. Vitamin E prevents nitrosamines from developing, thereby boosting your metabolic rate and causing your body to burn through calories more quickly.
It should be noted that this benefit most likely only makes a difference if you have a relatively low daily intake of calories, due to the high monounsaturated fat content found in olives. However, those who are already a healthy weight need not worry so much about this fat content.
6. They support bone strength
Many people develop osteoporosis in older age, and the risk is especially high in postmenopausal women. However, consuming more health benefits of olives could help to protect you from brittle bones, as they contain a phenolic phytochemical called hydroxytyrosol.
Animal studies suggest that hydroxytyrosol helps to reduce the loss of bone mass and also increases bone calcium deposits.
7. They promote a youthful appearance
Olives contain oleic acid, which has antioxidant properties that help to guard your body against the damage caused by free radicals. Since free radicals are linked to earlier signs of aging (such as sagging and wrinkled skin), regularly eating olives could help you to look younger for longer.
The vitamin E in olives also affords your skin a measure of protection against sun damage, which is known to age the skin.
8. They can lower blood pressure
The oleic acid in olives has other established health benefits of olives. For example, it is also linked to healthier blood pressure levels, which in turn help to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes.
As a bonus, the monounsaturated fats in olives also consistently lower blood pressure. If you’re on the verge of high blood pressure and looking to adjust your lifestyle and diet to delay the need for medication, olives could be a useful ally.
9. They reduce cholesterol levels
Finally, as well as influencing blood pressure, the monounsaturated fats in the health benefits of olives can lower levels of LDL (i.e. ‘bad’) cholesterol, and increase levels of HDL (.e. ‘good’) cholesterol. Higher HDL levels themselves can help to further reduce LDL cholesterol and also protect the inner walls of your blood vessels from the sort of damage that eventually causes strokes and heart attacks.