Olives are one of the healthiest superfoods in the world which belong to Oleaceae family and scientifically termed as Olea europaea which means European Olive. It is a native fruit of the countries like Italy, France and other places in the Mediterranean region and is also widely cultivated in South Asia, Saudi Arabia, California and Bermuda.
Olive fruit is the major cultivation crops of Mediterranean region planted to produce olive oil. It is used extensively as a key ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine due to its impressive nutrient profile. Olive cultivation has recently picked up in India and cultivated in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. Olive oil is highly valued for its indispensable health benefits.
Olive is a short evergreen tree and grows up to a height of 15m with silvery green oblong leaves. The fruit basically is a small drupe with slenderer flesh and harvested when it is green to purple in colour. Olive fruit is classified into three types based on the degree of ripening and time of harvest -green olive, semi-ripe olive and black olive. The olive tree is mainly cultivated for olive oil which accounts for 90% of the production.
Olive fruit is very bitter to be consumed immediately after cultivation, they must be cured to lessen their bitterness. Water curing, brine curing, and lye curing are common curing processes of olives which remarkably change the colour and composition of the olives. Lactic acid is also used for fermenting olive which functions as a natural preservative and protects the olives from germs.
Olive fruits are bestowed with a wealth of nutrients which include a healthy source of essential fatty acids, mainly 74% oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids), vitamin E, iron, copper and calcium. It is also heaped with powerful antioxidants including oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleanolic acid and quercetin which are valuable in promoting liver and heart health and lowering the risk of inflammation.
Incredible Health Benefits Of Olives:
Promotes Heart Health
The richness of oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids) the chief fatty acids in olive is well-known to lessen inflammation, reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Evidence has revealed that olives are potent to regulate blood pressure. Olive fruit is best to lower cholesterol and blood pressure thus lowering the risk of heart disease. Moreover, the impressive antioxidants content in olive fruit help to keep the heart-healthy. Also Read: Top 10 Superfoods For A Healthy Heart
Potent Anti-Inflammatory Effect
Olives are endowed with good amounts of vitamins, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids which combat inflammation and other diseases. Oleocanthal a key compound in olive is known to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties which facilitate in easing body pain. This compound works by inhibiting the production of enzymes that causes inflammation and surprisingly olives has a similar nature of anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.
Supports Bone Health
Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone bass and strength, which can elevate the risk of fractures. Research has revealed that Polyphenols in olives, prevent bone loss by augmenting the number of osteoblasts (cells that produce a matrix for bone formation) and promotes bone health. Hydroxytyrosol a potent antioxidant in olive plays a crucial role in bone formation and strengthening and helps to alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis. Also Read: World Osteoporosis Day: 5 Ways To Stay Healthy With Osteoporosis
The rich antioxidant profile of olive is beneficial in lowering the risk of cancer. Studies have proven that immense amount of oleic acid and antioxidants in olive oil is known to prevent the formation of cancer cells in the breast, colon and stomach.
Improves Gut Health
Olives are a great source of probiotics which is valuable in keeping up the digestive health. As olives are fermented food it consists of a good amount of gut-friendly lactobacillus bacteria. Moreover, the presence of phenolic compounds in olives averts the growth of Pylori, a bacterium which causes stomach inflammation. These phenols work as a powerful gut bacterium and promote gut health.
Olives boast a powerful health punch, which is pressed into healthy cooking oil, relished as whole or cured fruit, these little wonders are building a rep as a superb health healer. Beneficial compounds present in olive include:
Vitamin E act as a potent antioxidant scavenges harmful free radicals and prevent oxidising of healthy cells.
The richness of iron, which is a vital mineral for maintaining red blood cells and transport oxygen to all the organs
Imbued with copper lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Loaded with calcium strengthens bone, muscle and improve nerve function.
Promotes Blood Circulation
The richness of plant-based organic compounds in olives can increase nitric oxide production, thereby improves blood flow to tissues. It acts as a vasodilator that relaxes the blood vessels in the arteries, regulates blood pressure and promotes erectile function. In addition, olive being abundant in iron delivers oxygen to the vital organs and maintain healthy blood vessels.
Better Assimilation Of Nutrients
Vegetables and fruits packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants are better absorbed when consumed with a healthy fat such as olive. To reap the benefits of potent plant compounds in veggies drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil to salads or veggie dips, which mitigates the risk of chronic diseases, improves eye and skin health.
Reduces Signs Of Ageing
Olives have been used for ages for their amazing skin healing benefits. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins A and E it balances the pH levels of the skin. Further, vitamin E prevents the formation of free radicals and protects the skin from harmful UV rays.
Promotes Hair Health
Olives have been a great remedy for hair growth. Nutrients in olives increase blood flow to the scalp and aid the formation of new hair follicles. This improves hair growth, and texture and prevents hair fall.
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduces oxidative stress in the brain. This elevates levels of the proteins responsible for nerve growth factors and brain-derived neurotrophic factors. All this plays a pivotal role in the growth, development, and survival of healthy brain cells.
Augments Eye Health
A handful of olives contains significant amounts of Vitamin A which when gets converted into retinal form promotes eye health. It reduces signs of early cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other age-related ocular diseases.
Olives are usually well tolerated by most of the people, however it has high sodium content due to the curing process, so consume in moderate quantities.
Olives are a healthy addition to your diet regimen and offers you a host of healing health benefits. It is low on calories and high in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are proven to promote heart health, improve gut health, lowers inflammation and prevents cancer.