Are Olives Good for You?
We like them green, we like them black. We eat them off our fingers, and we dip them in our favorite drinks. But are green olives good for you? In this article we will consider where olives come from, some green and black olives health benefits, and share some tips for how best to serve up your olives.
Where do olives come from?
The olive is actually a fruit from the Olea europaea tree. Originating in the Mediterranean region, Olea means “oil”, which is a telling name for a tree that produces a fruit containing 75% oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat well known for lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Glycoside oleuropein concentrated in the skin of the olive prevents it from being edible right off the tree. Instead, the olive needs to be processed in order to lessen the bitterness. These processes can vary in accordance with the region, the olive type, and the desired end result for flavor, color, or texture.
Green olives are technically unripe fruit. When allowed to fully ripen, the olive turns a black color. Sometimes, unripe green olives are exposed during certain processing methods, and the oxidation darkens their color. Other factors such as fermentation, and curing in oil, water, brine, or salt can affect the olive’s color.
Olives are generally harvested in September, but they are available all year long. Typically used in salads, on pizzas, and with meat and poultry dishes, olives are receiving new recognition as their health benefits are becoming more widely known and accepted.
Health benefits of olives
Many of the olives health benefits are concentrated around their abundant supply of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Together, they work to control free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Here are a few examples.
1) Monounsaturated Fats:
One of the biggest of the olives health benefits is its supply of monounsaturated fats. These fats are not easily damaged, unlike their counterpart, polyunsaturated fats. Supplying monounsaturated fats to our cells strengthens their outer membranes, as well as the membranes protecting the DNA mitochondria. When these monounsaturated fats are combined with the vitamin E, polyphenols, and flavonoids also found in olives, they can provide a significant reduction in cellular damage and inflammation.
2) Free Radicals:
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. Without the protection provided by monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, oxidation can occur. Oxidation is the process of free radicals damaging nearby molecules, harming the cell’s ability to produce energy.
3) Heart Disease:
Another advantage of protecting against free radicals is the prevention of the oxidation of cholesterol, which damages blood vessels and can even lead to a heart attack.
4) Gastrointestinal Health:
Reducing free radicals in the colon can help reduce the possibility of colon cancer
Health tips for enjoying olives
Next time you want to enjoy some olives on something other than a pizza, give these ideas a try.
1) Make a tapenade spread by blending pitted olives together with olive oil, garlic, and some of your favorite seasonings.
2) Mix some olives in with tossed pasta, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and some fresh herbs.
3) Chop up some olives and add them to your next tuna or chicken salad.
4) Or just serve them up as finger food at your next party, or as a side for your next meal.
The health benefits of olives have been enjoyed for thousands of years, but as with all good things, moderation is key. While you may not want to make an olive salad, they do make a great addition to any salad. Now you can enjoy your olives and know that they are benefiting you as well.
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