5 Great Reasons to Eat Olives!

Olives are a rich Mediterranean superfood.

Pouring cold pressed olive oil into a bowl beside a branch of olives.

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Olives have a culturally and historically rich tradition. The gesture of holding out an olive branch has symbolized peace between peoples for millennia. Olives also represent longevity, offering the body incredibly healthy benefits. Be it smooth, extra virgin olive oil or juicy marinated olives, enjoy eating this superfood daily.

Olive trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, with the oldest known tree to be in Crete. This tree is 3,000 years old and still produces olives! There are over 1,000 varieties, the most well-known being green Manzanilla olives from Spain and the Kalamata, dark brown and black olives from Greece.

Olives have it all; they are rich in antioxidants, healthy monounsaturated fats, and are anti-inflammatory, according to Healthline. They are great for your heart as well as your metabolic health. Here are five reasons why you should say yes to a few olives a day.

Olives may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress

Packed with antioxidants, olives are a natural choice for reducing chronic inflammation. Two of these are hydroxytyrosol and oleanolic acids, according to WebMD.  When inflammation becomes chronic, it may lead to disease.

Acute inflammation creates oxidative stress, with excessive free radicals damaging healthy cells. Unchecked, this may lead to cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and stroke, according to Vita Wellness. Eating antioxidant-filled olives is a healthy choice, especially as you age.

A woman pours olive oil onto a salad.

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Helps heart health

It is the oleic acid in olives that may improve heart health, according to Healthline, with 74 percent of olives consisting of oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid can regulate levels of cholesterol and reduce blood pressure, according to a study from the International Journal of Food Science & Technology.

Olives are also a good source of copper. As the low availability of copper in Western diets may also contribute to heart disease, olives are a great choice.

May reduce cancer risk

Olives are a favorite food in Mediterranean countries. The antioxidant properties and the oleic acid found in olives may shorten the life of cancer cells, according to this study from the Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology journal.

Although more research needs to be done, preliminary studies show that olive extract may be effective in fighting colon, stomach, and breast cancer.

A mother with two young children pours olive oil onto bread.

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Helps fight colds and flu

The polyphenol oleuropein found in olive leaf extract also has antibacterial and antiviral properties according to Healthline. To help fight the flu, try olive leaf extract with its antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. A study in the journal Nutrients showed that athletes who took olive leaf extract had a 28 percent reduction in sick days. Keep olive leaf extract on hand for the next time you feel a cold coming on.

Parents and children in bed with a cold.

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Could protect your liver 

Just as your heart, cells, and respiratory system appreciate olives, so may your liver. Protect your liver and help detoxify by eating olives. Many people have a toxic buildup of fat around their liver. This body fat, according to Doctors Health Press, is your liver’s way of protecting itself, yet it is also a sign of a stressed liver.

Once again, it is the oleuropein in olives that heals. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming extra-virgin olive oil reduced the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A wooden bowl filled with shiny olives.

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