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FUN FACT: Olives 101

Olives and olive oil are essential to any kitchen and indispensable in Italian cuisine. Both a cooking element and condiment, olive oil is so versatile that it is ideal for preparing (frying, braising, sautéing, baking, broiling, grilling, marinating and basting) and for enhancing flavors of dishes and foods once served. But what are actually the benefits of consuming Olive and Olive Oil for your health?

Olives are a staple of the Italian diet. They’re associated with many health benefits, especially for heart health and cancer prevention.

Antioxidant properties

Dietary antioxidants have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Olives are rich in antioxidants, with health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation to reducing microorganism growth. One study showed that eating a pulpy residue from olives significantly increased blood levels of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body .

Improved heart health

High blood cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease.

Oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olives, is associated with improved heart health. It may regulate cholesterol levels and protect LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation .

Furthermore, some studies note that olives and olive oil may reduce blood pressure.

Improved bone health

Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and bone quality. It can increase your risk of fractures.

The rates of osteoporosis are lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe, leading to speculation that olives might protect against this condition. Some of the plant compounds found in olives and olive oil have been shown to help prevent bone loss in animal studies.

While human studies are lacking, animal studies and the data linking the Mediterranean diet to decreased fracture rates are promising.

Cancer prevention

Olives and olive oil are commonly consumed in the Mediterranean region, where rates of cancer and other chronic diseases are lower than in other Western countries . Thus, it’s possible that olives may help reduce your risk of cancer.

This may be partly due to their high antioxidant and oleic acid contents. Test-tube studies reveal that these compounds disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the breast, colon, and stomach.

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