Nutritional Value Of Olives

Understanding the Nutritional Value of Olives

There is a growing appreciation of the nutritional value of olives today because it is becoming more and more apparent that this fruit is a true power-keg of many things that are good for the human body. Olives are fruits with a long history in the Mediterranean. This region has celebrated the olive both for its culinary usage as well as held it up as a symbol of nobility and peace. The olive branch is an internationally recognized peace offering.

Olives for good health

The nutritional value of olives stems from the fact that it has very little carbohydrate and is a great source of monosaturates.  This makes it a good element in a low-carb diet. There are many different types of olives and the broad categories are the green olives and the ripe black olives.  Olives are a rich source of polyphenols which are critical as our body’s defence against cancer. Polyphenols have many good properties, and these elements which are the reason for the taste and the smell of the olives, can also help as an anti-inflammatory.

According to the USDA, a single serving of 10 medium sized green olives contains the following:

Water (g)       25.6
Energy (kcal)            49
Protein (g)     0.35
Fat, total (g)  5.21
Carbohydrate (g)    1.31
Sugars, total (g)        0.18
Fiber, total dietary (g)         1.1
Cholesterol (mg)      0
Saturated fatty acids, total (g)      0.69
Monounsaturated fatty acids, total (g)   3.847
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, total (g)      0.444
Calcium (mg)            18
Copper (mg) 0.041
Iron (mg)        0.17
Magnesium (mg)      4
Phosphorus (mg)      1
Potassium (mg)         14
Selenium (mcg)        0.3
Sodium (mg)  529
Zinc (mg)        0.01
Vitamin A, RAE (mcg)          7
Vitamin B-6 (mg)       0.011
Choline, total (mg)   4.8
Vitamin E, alpha tocopherol (mg)            1.3
Folate, total (mcg)   1
Vitamin K (mcg)        0.5
Niacin (mg)   0.081
Riboflavin (mg)         0.002
Thiamin (mg)  0.007
Carotene, beta (mcg)        79
Cryptoxanthin, beta (mcg)            3
Lutein + zeaxanthin (mcg)  173

The list is an indication of the variety of nutrients that we can get from a small amount of olives.

Olive oil is good for us too

Olive oil, which is extracted by pressing oils, is a good source of many beneficial nutrients and minerals also. The oil is a good source of antioxidants and as a special bonus it greatly adds to flavor of dishes. As it contains monounsaturated fat, it does not elevate the level of cholesterol in the body. It is said that olive oil prevents the adherence of cholesterol to the walls of the artery. Additionally, monosaturated fats also help in controlling blood sugar. This affects the insulin regulation in the body in a positive way also.

Tips on choosing olives and olive oil

Now that we know the facts behind the nutritional value of olives, we should make it point to include olives and olive oil in our diets. Here are some tips on how to choose what is best for us:

It is best to choose cold-pressed olive oil and heated processing erodes some of the best benefits of this oil. Extra virgin olive oil, which refers to the first pressed oil, is considered the healthiest. Extra virgin olive oil also has the least amount of acidity. While olive oil is fairly stable and does not become rancid like some other cooking oils, it is still best to not store too much of the oil at home.

If you are buying olives, they can technically be stored for up to two years if they are unopened. Another way to keep olives for a stretch is to dry-cure them and store them in the refrigerator. Olives vary in taste depending on the climate and soil quality of where they are grown. There is also some variation in the processing of olives. Some of the commonly found olives are Spanish olives, Mission olives and Kalamata olives.

Given that out bodies can easily process olives or olive oil, these are good ways to make sure that our bodies get a good dose of essential nutrients -so there is no reason to not add a splash of olive oil to your salad or a handful of olives to your pasta.