We think that knowing the health benefits of olives and olive oil is very important, since we consume both of them every day.
Did you know olive oil can be one of the most fraudulently labelled products in the world? Find out how to know when you’re getting the real thing, and why you should care. Most olive trees can live more than 500 years, but oldest-known olive tree in the world is in Greece and it’s an astounding tree of 3,000 years old! Greeks consume 25 kilograms of olive oil per year, and North Americans only five kilograms. Greece’s increased consumption of this healthy fat shows why the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and lowered cancer risk for those who follow it. So lets take a closer look at five more health benefits of olives and olive oil:
1. They protect against colon, breast and skin cancer
Olives and olive oil contain an abundance of phenolic antioxidants as well as the anti-cancer compounds squalene and terpenoid. They also contain high levels of the monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid which reduce chronic, excessive inflammation. These two compounds also work to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals on the body’s cells.
2. Olive oil is good for your heart
Olive oil contains biophenols, which suppress the synthesis of LDL (or “bad cholesterol) which has been shown to play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. High levels of LDL in the blood amplify oxidative stress which hardens the arterial walls (called atherosclerosis). The biophenols in olives reduce blood pressure, therefore reducing the development of arterial plaque as well.
3. They work to reduce pain
Olives contain a compound called oleocanthal that has strong anti-inflammatory properties, mimicking the action of ibuprofen. Olive oil naturally reduces the pain of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. It can be added to a daily diet to aid in pain reduction.
4. Olives and olive oil protect against ulcers
The antimicrobial properties in olives and olive oil help to combat the bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers. Studies have shown their high levels of polyphenols protect against eight strains of ulcer-causing bacteria, three of which are resistant to some antibiotics.
5. Eating olives will help to boost your iron intake
Olives contain a substantial amount of iron, a key factor in the formation of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream. Iron also helps to build the enzymes responsible for regulating immune function and cognitive development.
In order to properly reap these health benefits of olives, you need to make sure the olive oil you’re buying is real. Often times olive oil can be mixed with lower grade oils like soy or canola oil and sold for the same price. To ensure the oil you buy is the highest quality, and most healthful, follow these tips:
1. Buy certified organic oil
If possible, try to find one that has paperwork to track the oil production from field to table.
2. Get to know what live oil really tastes like
Light olive oil is not olive oil. Real extra virgin has a peppery and fruity taste. If you can’t taste the olives you may have deodorized, cheap oil that could be soy or canola with some green colour added. The real deal is more expensive but worth the health benefits.
3. Buy oil packed in dark glass
The real stuff degrades in heat and light, so avoid the clear plastic bottles that could be leaching plastic into your next meal!