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Olives Overwhelming Benefits (And Tips On Choosing The Best Ones!)
For thousands of years, olives have been an essential ingredient of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Olives come in many varieties and flavors and can be enjoyed on their own, added to a dish, or used to create make other products like olive oil. Olives are packed with so many health benefits, it’s amazing that they are rarely included in the “superfood” lists which have become so trendy the last few years. In this article, we will explore why olives might be the healthiest addition you can make to your diet.
It’s no surprise that olive-rich Mediterranean cuisines are considered to be among the healthiest in the world. Countries like Italy, Spain and Greece have some of the lowest rates of coronary heart disease and cancer in the industrialized world. But what are the specific health benefits, and what exactly is it about a diet rich in olives and olive products that causes this?
To begin with, olives are a good source of iron and vitamins E and A. Olives improve testosterone synthesis and have antimicrobial properties. But olives contain other benefits which rightly place them in the superfood category.
1. Olives are an excellent source of GOOD fat
Contrary to what decades of anti-fat propaganda has taught us, not all fat is bad. Olives are an exceptional source of monounsaturated fat, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.Approximately 75 percent of the fat found in olives is a type of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which plays a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels. It also improves the ratio of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol to the high-density “good” cholesterol (HDL). Studies have also shown olive consumption can help lower blood pressure. All these qualities help lower one’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
2. Olives are rich in antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties
Oxidative stress on cells contributes to the aging process. It is ironic in many ways; our bodies require oxygen to survive, but the process of oxidation over time is ultimately what causes all living things to die. Antioxidants are compounds which help negate the effects of oxygen exposure and prolong life.
Olives are a good source of antioxidants. A study conducted on roundworms found that tyrosol, one of the key antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil, was able to extend the lifespan of worms by 15 percent.
Inflammation is a natural response to disease and injuries in the body. Unfortunately, and somewhat confusingly, it can often occur at inappropriate times, and chronic inflammation is both a sign of and contributor to disease. Foods with anti-inflammatory compounds are essential to any healthy diet, and few foods can compare to olives in this regard. One antioxidant, called oleuropein, is only found in olives, and plays a role in the aforementioned ability of olives to lower LDL cholesterol. A similar compound called oleocanthal has chemical properties which researchers have determined are similar to the pain relieving medication ibuprofen. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen can be tough on the liver if taken too often, but eating plenty of olives may help to circumvent this risk.
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