The olive is one of the world’s most widely enjoyed foods. Delicious on salads, meats, poultry, pizza and vegetable trays (even though it is technically a fruit), the olive is as versatile in its culinary uses as in the locations where it is grown. Olive oil is preferred by most well-known chefs in cooking and sautéing because of its rich flavor and beautiful color. Most importantly, the olive has one of the most remarkable nutrition profiles of any fruit.
Although olives contain fat, they contain monounsaturated fat which is the “good” fat. Monounsaturated fats reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and boost high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (HDL). Black olives are rich in antioxidants and help prevent heart disease by actually dilating blood vessels, thinning the blood and ensuring the proper flow of nutrients throughout the cardiovascular system.
Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin strengthen the retina and macula to protect them from degenerative disease. Vitamin A is another nutrient that is crucial for healthy vision, and one cup of olives contains 10 percent of the RDA of vitamin A. Widely believed to be effective against glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, vitamin A helps protect the eye from age-related eye issues. It also allows the eye to differentiate between light and dark and improves night vision.
Olives contain a compound called oleocanthal that has a strong anti-inflammatory effect much like ibuprofen. Olives and olive oil naturally reduce the pain of inflammatory diseases like arthritis. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olives even help protect against cancer because chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are major contributors to the development of cancer (Source: Youth Health).
Olives have many other benefits as well, such as boosting iron levels, skin and hair health, weight loss, gastrointestinal support and pain reduction. Try adding some olives into your diet this year. Maybe olives are not your preferred snack or pizza topping, but try cooking with olive oil to boost your vitamin A, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory levels. You may even recognize some changes on the outside of your body while you are being nourished and healed on the inside!