Green, black, kalamata – the list of olive types goes on and on. Searching for healthy eating habits and not finding olives on nearly every list is hard. Why is that? Because olives are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Olives are a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, which is not surprising since the Mediterranean is where olives originated. After all, some of the best olive oil in the world comes from Italy, Spain, and Greece. Do not forget about Turkey and Morocco as leading olive producers, as well.
Nutritionally, these tiny powerhouses are excellent sources of antioxidants that offer many health benefits. However, it can be confusing to know what type of olives are best and if there is a difference between natural and store-bought olives.
Unless you have an olive tree in your backyard, chances are your olives are coming from a store. Of course, you can purchase fresh olives off the tree if you live near an olive grove. California is a leading source of olive production, with five major varieties – Ascolano, Barouni, Manzanillo, Mission, and Sevillano. Hojiblanca, Kalamata, and Picholine can also be found growing in the Golden State.
One of the differences you will notice in natural olives is that they have varied colors depending on the state of ripeness at harvesting. Bright green olives are the first to mature, gradually changing in color to yellow-green, rose, and red-brown before becoming fully ripe black olives.
Olives increase their oil content as they ripen, and storing methods depend on their ripeness. Black olives last only a few days after harvest, with ripe green olives lasting a few weeks. If you purchase natural olives, you will need to cure them. The method of curing olives depends on the type.
- Difference between natural and store-bought olives
- Store-bought olives are already cured, so they last longer
- It typically costs less to buy jarred olives than those you might find at a deli (these are likely already cured)
- Natural olives require curing unless you eat them quickly – however, you control the curing process and ingredients used (helpful if on a low-sodium diet)
- The curing process changes the taste and texture of olives
- Uncured olives off the tree are often intensely bitter
- All olives are “natural” even after they are cured – unless they contain additives, colors, or preservatives
Health Benefits of Olives
Returning to our discussion about the health benefits of olives and the Mediterranean diet, it is well-known that this diet is good for the heart and brain and reducing inflammation. The two most common ingredients of the Mediterranean diet are olives and olive oil because they supply you with vitamin E and healthy fats. If you want to know about the many health benefits of olives, keep reading.
- Rich in antioxidants
As an excellent source of antioxidants, olives help neutralize free radicals contributing to aging, heart attacks, stroke, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Kalamata olives have one of the highest antioxidant levels among olives. The phenolic compounds in olives help reduce cell damage and help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Another cognitive benefit of olives is that they contain polyphenols that reduce oxidative stress in the brain and prevent apoptosis (brain cell death).
- Increases good cholesterol
The monounsaturated fat in olives helps promote good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which your body needs to remove bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from your arteries. Increasing HDL and reducing LDL cholesterol helps lower the risk of developing heart disease.
- Keep hormones in balance
Because olives are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, they can help reduce hormonal deficiency symptoms, boost mood, and help to establish hormonal balance. For example, HGH deficiency can cause mood swings, feelings of anxiety, and even depression. Hormone deficiency should only be corrected by a hormone specialist. Please, be careful while choosing the right treatment and find out if HGH gel somaderm is a scam.
- Help with digestive diseases
Olives are a fermented food with probiotic potential, providing multiple benefits for the digestive system. They provide an excellent source of dietary fiber to help keep you regular. The monounsaturated fat in olives helps slow digestion and sends messages to the brain that you are full – helping you eat less. Phenols in olives last a long time in the abdomen to help impede the H. pylori bacterium that can cause stomach inflammation. Consuming extra virgin olive oil can help reduce gastric acidity, decrease inflammation, and stimulate intestinal transit to soothe gastritis symptoms. Olive oil can also help improve gallbladder functions and reduce the risk of gallstones.
- Low calories food
Calorie-wise, black olives pack 116 calories in a 3.5-ounce serving, with green olives providing 145 calories in the same portion size. While it is easy to overindulge when snacking on olives, keeping it to 8 black olives or 10 green olives for your snack will provide your body with monounsaturated fat to help your overall health. At about 7 calories per olive, you expend more calories digesting the olive than you gain by eating it.
- Promotes healthy skin and hair
If you want to stay as young-looking as long as possible, include olives in your daily diet. Their antioxidant, vitamin A, and vitamin E properties help protect the skin against harmful UV rays to reduce the development of wrinkles and other signs of aging. Olives also help keep your hair looking good by increasing new blood capillary formation for better blood flow to the scalp.
- Good for libido and sexuality
Sexual decline can affect anyone, male or female. Olives can help reduce cortisol, increase testosterone, and improve erectile dysfunction in men with metabolic syndrome. The healthy fatty acids in olives help improve blood flow for better erections.
Because olives help reduce inflammation, they can improve fertility in women. The hormone-boosting benefits of olives and olive oil can help improve sexual desire and orgasms (thank you, testosterone). It is no wonder that olives have long been thought of as an aphrodisiac.
- Help with blood clotting problems
Vitamin E in olives can help reduce blood clotting by inhibiting nitric oxide in the blood vessel lining. Because it increases HDL and reduces LDL cholesterol levels, it helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Blood flows more freely, reducing the risk of clotting.
The more you learn about olives, the easier it is to see why these little powerhouses are highly regarded for their many health benefits. Whether you choose to snack on a few olives before a meal to aid digestion or use extra virgin olive oil in your cooking, ensuring your daily consumption of olives can improve your appearance, health, and quality of life.
Store-bought olives, free of unwanted preservatives, are an excellent way to keep olives handy at all times. If you want the best nutritional bang for your buck, go with Kalamata olives. It is no wonder they are a staple of Greek cooking and salads.