If your taste buds need a wake-up call, eat some olives! They’re full of tangy delicious flavors. No wonder so many grocery stores have olive bars. But do you know what benefits you’re getting? Here are nine reasons why you should eat those olives.
9 Reasons Why Olives Are Good
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1. Lower Cholesterol
The unsaturated fats in olives can help reduce your cholesterol. This is something to consider if your levels are high. It can improve your HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Olives pair especially well with nuts, which are another source of healthy fats.
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2. Enhanced Digestive Health
Eating black olives will give you fiber, a nutrient needed for healthy bowel movements. One cup has 3.3 grams of fiber, while the daily recommended intake is 25 to 30 grams.1 The fiber will also control your appetite by keeping you full. You’ll be less likely to overeat later in the day, which can help regulate weight gain. It’s also great for reducing cholesterol levels!
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3. Stronger Bones
You might be surprised to know that olives have some calcium. There are about 7.4 grams in 1 tablespoon of small olives. This can be a tasty part of the recommended intake of 1,000 mg a day.2 Remember, your bones need this mineral in order to be strong and healthy.
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4. Healthy Blood
In one cup of olives, you get 3.3 grams of iron. So it can significantly contribute to the daily recommended intake of 8 grams for males and 18 grams for females. Your blood needs enough iron to properly transport oxygen around the body.3 It’s like fuel for your cells and tissues.
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5. Good Skin
You’ll also get vitamin E from eating olives. This is an antioxidant that stops free radical damage all around your body – including your skin. Vitamin E can actually absorb harmful ultraviolet light so that your skin doesn’t get damaged. This process is known as “photoprotection” and can prevent wrinkles and spots. Wound healing will also be easier with vitamin E.4
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6. Better Mental Health
Olives also have antioxidants called polyphenols. These chemicals protect your cells and slow down age-related brain decline. Even your memory and cognitive function can improve. It’s all thanks to the polyphenols’ ability to encourage communication between nerve cells.5
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7. Immune System Boost
Together, the high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants improve your immunity. They give your cells the power to successfully fight off infection and disease. Even the unsaturated fats in olives act as helpers for your white blood cells.6
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8. Healthier Heart
The cholesterol-lowering properties in olives will make it easy for the heart to pump blood. This will decrease the chances of heart disease or stroke. The tiny blood vessels in your heart will also work better thanks to the polyphenols.7
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9. Cancer Protection
Since olives strengthen your immunity, you’ll have a better defense against cancer. The polyphenols also inhibit oxidative stress and tumor growth. They’ll help your cells survive and stay strong even in the face of cancer.8
Olives have a lot of sodium because they’re soaked in a salty brine. If you have good blood pressure and consume a low-sodium diet, eating olives is fine. But if you’re trying to cut back on salt, talk to your doctor before eating them. You should only have 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Long-term excessive intake can lead to conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, and cataracts.9 But your doctor might allow olives in moderation.
If you’re not sure how to eat olives, check online for inspiration. They work well as simple snacks and appetizers. You can also add them to pasta, rice, or sandwiches.
|↑1||Increasing Fiber Intake, UCSF Medical Center|
|↑2||Calcium, National Institutes of Health|
|↑3||Iron, National Institutes of Health|
|↑4||Vitamin E and Skin Health, Oregon State University|
|↑5||[Lau, Francis C., Barbara Shukitt-Hale, and James A. Joseph. The beneficial effects of fruit polyphenols on brain aging. Supplement 26.1(2005):128-132.|
|↑6||Adolph, Stephanie, Axel Schoeniger, Herbert Fuhrmann, and Julia Schumann. “Unsaturated fatty acids as modulators of macrophage respiratory burst in the immune response against Rhodococcus equi and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 52, no. 11 (2012): 2246-2253.|
|↑7||Noad, Rebecca L., Ciara Rooney, Damian McCall, Ian S. Young, David McCance, Michelle C. McKinley, Jayne V. Woodside, and Pascal P. McKeown. “Beneficial effect of a polyphenol-rich diet on cardiovascular risk: a randomised control trial.” Heart 102, no. 17 (2016): 1371-1379.|
|↑8||Scalbert, Augustin, Ian T. Johnson, and Mike Saltmarsh. “Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 81, no. 1 (2005): 215S-217S.|
|↑9||Sodium Dangers, National Jewish Health|