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You might have heard about the health benefits of eating olives and considered adding them to your diet. But are Greek olives good for you, and what health benefits could you expect?
There are more than 10 varieties of popular Greek olives that differ in taste and size depending on their variety, region, and marinade or stuffing. They are served in varying colors of green and black depending on their level of ripeness when they are picked – green being unripe and black being fully ripe.
These are widely known Greek table olive varieties – Amfissa, Halkidiki, Konservolia, Koroneiki, Megaron, Nafplion, Thassos – with the most popular variety in the world known as Kalamata olives, also named as “king of olives” or Greek black olives. Despite being called black olives, they are actually a deep purple color.
Greek olives are widely available with Kalamata olives considered the healthiest olives in the world. So why are these Greek olives good for you?
Nutritional Benefits of Greek Olives
As well as adding a unique Mediterranean flavor to your meal, Greek olives can help you stay healthy.
Greek olives are a good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K and micronutrients including iron, calcium, and copper. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and play role in obesity, iron is needed for your red blood cells and copper contributes to your heart health. Calcium is essential for strong bones, teeth, and fit muscles.
They are also a source of protein, low in cholesterol, and a good source of dietary fiber, which the body needs for gut health, as well as some magnesium and potassium.
For example, one serving of Greek Kalamata olives is about 4 olives, and this contains around 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fiber, about 320 calories, and 8 grams of fat.
While Greek olives contain 80% of water, they are still relatively rich in good fat. This fat is monounsaturated fat also known as oleic acid that can help in the battle against cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and various heart diseases.
Antioxidants can help protect your body against environmental toxins and free radicals. This could reduce the risk of some cancers as well as other illnesses.
Olives contain phenolic compounds that are natural antioxidants protective actions against several diseases, especially in cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, and are also responsible for giving olives much of their unique bitter flavor.
The major phenolic compounds in Greek olives are oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol. In reference to research, these antioxidants demonstrate a wide spectrum of positive effects on physiological processes related to health and disease, as cardioprotective, anticancer, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, as well as their metabolism and bioavailability.
Also, antioxidants found in many veggies and fruits are best absorbed when eaten with dietary fat such as olives. So if you eat olives, it helps alter your diet in the right direction and maintain your healthy wellbeing.
If you are interested in more information about antioxidants in olives and olive oil, read my article about polyphenol-rich olive oil benefits.
Reduce Symptoms of Dementia
Furthermore, scientific studies have shown that olives and olive oil can help prevent cognitive decline in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Greek olives contain a substance known as gallic acid, which has been found to heal nerve damage in rats suffering from Alzheimer’s.
There still needs to be research completed to see if the same effects can be expected in humans, however, other research has shown that extra virgin olive oil – pure olive juice – protects memory and learning ability and has some effect in reducing the chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia as well.
Add Greek Olives to Your Diet
As discussed above, there are many proven reasons why Greek olives good for you. While they are often an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which may help people prevent disease and live longer, they can easily be added to other diets and many other popular meals.
You can add Greek olives to a salad, vegetables, a cheese platter, to a sub sandwich, into homemade spaghetti sauce, and as a pizza topping. There are many ways to add this healthy food to your diet, but how many olives you can eat per day?
How Many Greek Olives Good for You?
A daily dose of Greek olives is around 30 – 40 g which is about 3 to 5 olives (depending on olive size) per adult. Olives are multipurpose and can either be consumed as appetizers, added to salads, or cooking.
Remember: 5 olives per day, keep doctor away!
Any Risk Eating Too Many Greek Olives?
There are many reasons why Greek olives are good for you, however, over-consumption is not recommended likewise with any other great product.
All olives are relatively high in sodium because they are cured or packed in brine or saltwater, and while sodium is essential for muscle and nerve function, too much is a bad thing.
While the terms sodium and salt are often used interchangeably, they aren’t exactly the same thing. Sodium is a substance found in food, often in processed foods or when preservatives have been used. And salt, or sodium chloride, is what we add to our food.
Either way, you should limit your sodium or salt intake. Too much sodium can push your heart to work harder and can ultimately lead to poor health.
Eating Greek olives in addition to more vegetables and fruit results in some substantial bonuses, helping you achieve weight goals and make a positive change that benefits your health for the long term.
However, it is best to consume Greek olives in moderation, as produced olives usually are preserved in brine that is high in salt. A daily normal portion of olives, though, shouldn’t cause you any problems and will provide you with many health benefits.