Healthy Life: Olives and Olive Oil

Olives and Olive Oil

by Valerie Lull, MH

I have always loved olives. They have a permanent place on our family table for dinners like Thanksgiving, and special occasions. Olives are a staple in the Middle East and are used extensively in the Mediterranean diet as they have been used for centuries. The squalene in the oil has been used for beauty treatments and olives are said to prevent heart disease. Olives are widely used in cooking.

Olive oil is good for the heart. It contains biophenols which lower the oxidation of bad cholesterol. It also reduces blood pressure and the formation of plaque in the arteries. Reduction of inflammation is another property of olive oil. Some researchers claim that olives have anti-aging properties.

Olives contain monounsaturated fat which is also found in nuts and avocados. This is a healthy fat. It helps to create HDL cholesterol in your body which is the good kind of cholesterol. It also helps to lower LDL cholesterol, the bad kind.

Olives contain vitamin E as well as antioxidants. Research shows that they may help prevent osteoporosis and cancer. Nutrients in olives include the minerals iron, copper, calcium and sodium. Antioxidants include oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and Quercetin. Olives contain some substances that scientists say have anti-cancer properties. These are squalene and terpenoid.

There are several kinds of olives. We know primarily green olives and black olives. The main difference is that black olives are riper than green ones. Olives straight from the tree have a bitter taste. Before eating they need to be cured. Olives are low in carbs and high in healthful fats. They make a tasty and healthful snack.

The best kind of olive oil is extra-virgin. Studies suggest that extra-virgin olive oil is best for lowering blood pressure and decreasing mortality from cardiovascular disease. Olives contain antioxidants that improve cognition in the brain.

When storing olive oil keep it in a cool dark space. Direct light and heat can destroy the quality of the olive oil. Be sure your extra-virgin olive comes in a dark bottle. A bottle of extra-virgin oil is good for about 2 months after opening. Do your research and find out where and who the olive oil is from. Some brands are not what they say on the label and have other oils mixed with them. The best way to test this is to put the bottle in the refrigerator. If the oil solidifies it is the real thing. If it doesn’t its not.

There are some downsides to olives. Some people are allergic to olives. The olives may contain heavy metals depending on the soil where they are grown. Some olives contain acrylamide which is linked to risk of cancer. Olives also contain a lot of sodium which can cause blood sugar to go up.




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About the Author

Valerie B. Lull, author of Ten Healthy Teas, is an herbalist and wellness coach. At the age of 45 she was diagnosed with Diabetes and staying in good health became her passion. She studied at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Valerie has always had a passion for staying healthy and for the health benefits of teas and the various ways they can be prepared. Valerie’s passion for tea started in childhood, when she experienced a traditional-style teatime with her Canadian relatives.

Read about tea, herbs, spices and nutrition on her blog. Visit her at her website and on Twitter. You can contact Valerie via email as well. Valerie’s new book, Glorious Garlic! is now on Amazon. Check it out.

You can read her “Healthy Life” column on the 4th Monday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

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