Olive, also known as Olea europaea, meaning oil from Europe, is a species of a small tree from the Oleaceae family. Olives are one of the oldest foods and are thought to have originated in Crete, an Island in Greece some 3000 years ago. They are often mentioned in Bible, depicted in the ancient Egyptian books and are featured strongly in Greek mythology. Olive comes in various colours like green, black, purple and various sizes like large, small, round, oval and round. Regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom, the olive tree provides food, fuel, timber, medicines since ancient times.
Olives are rich in fat especially omega 9 monounsaturated fats, minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, Vitamin E, D and K. It also contains moderate amounts of phytonutrient flavonoids, fiber and have high levels of sodium.
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USDA Nutrient Chart:
|Nutrient||Unit||Value per 100.0g||1.0 tbsp 8.4g||1.0 large 4.4g||1.0 small 3.2g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||10.68||0.90||0.47||0.34|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||6.26||0.53||0.28||0.20|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||3.2||0.3||0.1||0.1|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||0.9||0.1||0.0||0.0|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||20||2||1||1|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||403||34||18||13|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||1.65||0.14||0.07||0.05|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||µg||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||µg||1.4||0.1||0.1||0.0|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||1.415||0.119||0.062||0.045|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||7.888||0.663||0.347||0.252|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.911||0.077||0.040||0.029|
Health benefits of Olives:
Olives are healthy fruits that have been lending superb nutrition to mankind since centuries. The health benefits of olive are recognized by many ancient physicians like Hippocrates, Galen, Dioscorides, and Diocles. Olives are extremely beneficial for the health owing to their high content of monounsaturated fats and anti-oxidants.
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1. Controls Cholesterol:
The foremost olive benefit is its action against cholesterol. When free radicals oxidize cholesterol, blood vessels get damaged and fat builds up in arteries. Monounsaturated fats and polyphenols found in olives helps to prevent oxidation of cholesterol and protects against atherosclerosis and other related cardiovascular diseases like heart strokes and heart attacks. The monounsaturated fats in olives have been found to shrink the risk of atherosclerosis and increase good cholesterol.
The anti-oxidants of polyphenols fight against free radicals and prevent cancer, premature ageing and many other chronic conditions. Frequent consumption of Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats in black olives lowers the rate of colon cancer by neutralizing free radicals. The phyto-nutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation which can reduce the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence.
3. Bone health:
Olives are rich in Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus which improves the overall health of the bone and improves bone mineralisation and calcification. The anti-inflammatory abilities of the monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E and polyphenols found in black olives prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It prevents bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
4. Digestive tract health:
Olives improve liver’s and intestine’s function. Due to their high fiber content, it helps to cleanse the colon and fights constipation. All these effects result in improved detoxification and excretion of toxins from the body with consequent improved functioning of the whole body. Olive oil also has beneficial effects on gastritis and ulcers. The high levels of polyphenols protect against eight strains of ulcer causing bacteria, three of which are resistant to some anti-biotic. Olive activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones and lowers the formation of gall stones.
5. Skin health:
The anti-oxidant properties present in olives work wonders for the skin. It prevents skin damage caused by free radicals. Olives also contain high amount of beta carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A and E which play an important role in stimulating skin regeneration and provides protection against harmful sun rays. All these collectively help to maintain a young and youthful skin.
6. Anti-oxidant benefits:
Olives are a good source of antioxidants, Vitamin E and also contain small amounts of anti-oxidant minerals like selenium and zinc. These antioxidant properties in olives help to avoid unwanted problems due to “oxidative stress”. “Oxidative Stress” is a situation in which our cells are not protected from potential oxygen damage which leads to insufficient supply of anti-oxidant nutrients. Poor diet, improper medication, aging, infections and radiation deplete glutathione. A diet rich in olives is the best defence.
7. Improves Vision:
Vitamin A present in olives when converted into retinal form is beneficial for healthy eyes. It improves night vision and helps to distinguish between light and dark. Vitamin A is effective against cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other age related eye diseases.
8. Anti-inflammatory benefits:
Olive health benefits also include its anti-histamine action. Extracts from olives have been shown to function as anti-histamines at cellular levels by blocking special histamine receptors. Olive consumption boosts glutathione level which has anti-inflammatory properties. Both olives and olive oil are anti-allergenic due to its high Vitamin E content which is a key anti-allergy nutrient.
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