Health benefits of olives

Health benefits of olives

Olives are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. They’re associated with many health benefits, especially for heart health and cancer prevention.

Antioxidant properties
Dietary antioxidants have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Olives are rich in antioxidants, with health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation to reducing microorganism growth (23Trusted Source).

One study showed that eating a pulpy residue from olives significantly increased blood levels of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).

Improved heart health
High blood cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease.

Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olives, is associated with improved heart health. It may regulate cholesterol levels and protect LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

Furthermore, some studies note that olives and olive oil may reduce blood pressure (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

Improved bone health
Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and bone quality. It can increase your risk of fractures.

The rates of osteoporosis are lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe, leading to speculation that olives might protect against this condition (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

Some of the plant compounds found in olives and olive oil have been shown to help prevent bone loss in animal studies (30Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

While human studies are lacking, animal studies and the data linking the Mediterranean diet to decreased fracture rates are promising (31Trusted Source).

Cancer prevention
Olives and olive oil are commonly consumed in the Mediterranean region, where rates of cancer and other chronic diseases are lower than in other Western countries (35Trusted Source).

Thus, it’s possible that olives may help reduce your risk of cancer.

This may be partly due to their high antioxidant and oleic acid contents. Test-tube studies reveal that these compounds disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the breast, colon, and stomach (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).

However, human studies are needed to confirm these results. At this point, it’s unclear whether eating olives or olive oil has any effect on cancer.

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