Are olives good for you?
We know that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is good for our health, but what about table olives? Are the whole olive fruits as good for you as the oil?
What are olives?
Edible olives are the fruit of the Olea europaea trees. There are many edible varieties of olives, which are fermented before being eaten. Olives contain a pip which is often removed during processing (pitted olives).
Are olives good to eat?
Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are one of the oldest fermented fruits. The fermentation process takes away the olives’ bitterness, making them enjoyable to eat as a snack or with a meal.
Although most of the research on olives’ health benefits has been on Extra Virgin Olive Oil, table olives can be just as good for you.
Olives are a good source of many nutrients that can help keep us healthy, including1
- Monounsaturated fats (to help protect our heart)
- Dietary fibre (for digestion and heart health)
- Vitamin E (antioxidant to help reduce heart, cancer and diabetes risk)
- Phenolic compounds chlorophyll and anthocyanins (antioxidants to help reduce heart, cancer and diabetes risk)
Because olives are fermented, they’re also an important source of probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that, if taken in enough amounts, can be beneficial to our health2.
Table olives have been found to contain lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus) and yeasts which are beneficial to our digestion and overall health3.
100g table olives (about 30 small to medium-sized olives) contains1
- 6-30g fat (67-82% monounsaturated fats)
- 1-2.2g protein
- 1.5-3g dietary fibre
- Negligible carbohydrates
- 3.75-5g sodium
What’s the difference between green and black olives?
Traditionally, olives are picked when they’re green. As they mature, the colour of the olive changes, and so does the nutritional content 1,4.
Green olives are:
- Lower in Monounsaturated fatty acids
- Higher in chlorophyll and carotenoids
Black olives are:
- Higher in Monounsaturated fatty acids
- Lower in chlorophyll and carotenoids
- Higher in anthocyanins
What’s the best way to eat olives?
You can enjoy olives
- As a side dish
- As a snack with raw vegetables
- In a salad
- On a pizza
Try different types of olives
- Pimento pepper
View article references
- Rocha J, Borges N, Pinho O. Table olives and health: a review. Journal of nutritional science. 2020;9.
- Perpetuini G, Prete R, Garcia-Gonzalez N, Khairul Alam M, Corsetti A. Table olives more than a fermented food. Foods. 2020 Feb;9(2):178.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What You Need To Know. 2021. Retrived from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
- Preedy VR, Watson RR, editors. Olives and olive oil in health and disease prevention. Academic Press; 2020 Dec 2.