Olives are fruits that are part of the drupes group – fruits that come with a stone or pit. Some other drupes include mangos, peaches, almonds, nectarines, cherries and pistachios.
It is good to know that there are dozens of types of olives and they all grow on olive trees that originate from the Mediterranean. These trees are amazing and one of the things that make them unique is their longevity – they can live for hundreds of years. According to some sources, there is an olive tree that is more than 2 millennia old.
When it comes to the US market, there are five distinctive varieties of olives that represent more than 90% of this market – Sevillano, Manzanillo, Barouni, Ascolano and Mission. Most of them are grown in California.
There are many people who like Kalamata olives, a product of the Kalamon olive trees which naturally grow in Greece. Keep in mind that the olives that are labeled as Kalamata type of Kalamata style are not real Kalamata olives.
It is not unusual that there are olive experts today because every type of olive comes with specific characteristics. As a matter of fact, there are special olive bars in specialty stores where people can taste different kinds of olives.
In case you are fond of olives and you like to eat them from time to time, then you will love this part of the article. Olives are not only tasty snack, but they can also bring many health benefits. There are a huge number of people who stay away from olives because they are packed with fat, but this is exactly why we should eat them. Of course, there are few other good reasons why you should include olives in your diet.
Fats which are Good for Our Heart
The vast majority of the fat found in olives consists of oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fat that has the ability to lower the chances of developing heart disease.
It is good to know that macadamia nuts are also packed with high healthy fat content (up to 60%).
According to the experts who work at George Mateljan Foundation, in case diets that were low in monounsaturated fats are changed and the intake of this specific type of fat is increased without making total fat intake too high, people usually witness a reduction in LDL cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels and LDL:HDL ratio.
These modifications in our diet can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. A scientific study conducted not while ago suggests that olives come with monounsaturated fat that has the ability to stabilize blood pressure.
The aforementioned oleic acid can alter the signaling system that takes place on a cell membrane level. This happens when the oleic acid is absorbed in the body and directed to the cells. The final result of this change is lowered blood pressure.
On the other hand, a research revealed in the popular BMC Medicine journal confirmed that olive oil intake, especially when it comes to extra virgin oil, is linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and fatalities in people who belong to the risky category.
Strong Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Olives are packed with antioxidants and this fact was confirmed by a research revealed in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
Some of these antioxidants include polyphenols like oleuropein glucoside, phenols like tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol and other antioxidants. Studies have confirmed that the antioxidant effects provided by olive oils are much more efficient than the ones provided by vitamin E.
In addition, olives also come with some specific antioxidants that can’t be found in other foods like oleuropein for example. This antioxidant limits the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the body and reduces the effects of oxidative stress.
This specific antioxidant also limits the activity of iNOS – inducible nitric oxide synthase. iNOS has been linked to inflammation. Finally, oleocanthal, a powerful phenolic compound that is present in virgin olive oil provides similar anti-inflammatory effects like the popular commercial medicine ibuprofen.
For example, there are certain compounds in olives that can trigger the gene focused on suppressing tumors and the so-called apoptotic gene which triggers predefined cell death. A study revealed in the respected International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine has confirmed these claims.
There are numerous scientific studies that have confirmed that the frequency of cancer and cardiovascular disease is very low in the Mediterranean and one of the main reasons is the specific diet which includes olives and olive oil.