The benefits of olives and how to choose the healthiest in the supermarket


Green, black, with bone, without it, stuffed, without stuffing, seasoned, unseasoned, large, small… olives are one of the treasures of the Mediterranean diet, being highly appreciated for the juice that is extracted from them ( olive oil olive oil ) and by the fruit as such. It is not surprising that it is the most offered aperitif at any time and in any bar and restaurant in Spain, since it has numerous varieties and provides us with multiple benefits.

On a nutritional level, as Ana Colomer, dietitian-nutritionist, says, they are a source of fiber , monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It should be noted that although the fat content of olives is high , “they are healthy fats”, since they are mostly monounsaturated fats that are very rich in oleic acid (omega-9) and, although in smaller amounts, they also contain omega-3 and omega-6.

«The nutritional profile of olives stands out for being a good source of fatty acids, fiber and vitamin E, although its fatty acid content causes olives to have a high energy value (120 kilocalories per 100 grams, according to Bedca ) . », says the expert, who adds that having a high sodium content (54 mg per 100 grams, according to Bedca) prevents people with hypertension from abusing olives.

María José Sánchez, head of the AINIA Consumer Department, for her part, explains what it means that olives are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids: “Oleic acid, which constitutes 99% of monounsaturated fatty acids, is largely responsible for of the healthy attributes of olives ”, he specifies, adding that this acid also helps regulate blood cholesterol levels “to contribute to good cardiovascular health and lower the risk of diseases of this type”, more details here

Why is it good to eat them?

The fruit of the olive tree is also rich in tocopherol which, along with other antioxidant phenolic compounds, help fight free radicals : “They prevent the oxidation of cell membranes, improve endothelial function and also help prevent cardiovascular diseases,” they say. from the AINIA Consumer Department.

Vitamin A, also present in olives, helps keep tissues such as skin or mucous membranes in good condition and is essential for healthy eyesight. Regarding minerals, María José Sánchez explains that they are very rich in sodium, so it is important that people who are hypertensive and have problems with salt take this into account to moderate their consumption.

Benefits of olives

  • They are a healthy and nutritious food.
  • They are antioxidants and rich in vitamin A and E.
  • Enjoy on a sensory level as they are widely accepted
  • good source of fiber

types of olives

First of all, it must be taken into account that not all olives are available in the same place, but depending on the geographical area there will be one type or another. Apparently, different varieties of olives are grown in Spain, as the nutritionist Ana Colomer says:

Gordal : they are the thickest and have an intense flavor.

Hojiblanca : they are harder than the Gordal and their color can be green and black tones.

Manzanillas : they are the smallest and very round olives. This type is the most consumed.

Cacereña, Aloreña, Verdial, Lechín or Picual are others that can have double aptitude, that is, depending on the area where they are grown, they can be used for the table or for oil production.

According to dietitian Andrea Calderón, scientific secretary of the Spanish Society of Dietetics and Food Sciences (SEDCA), there are no healthier olives than others, even though they vary in their nutritional composition and her advice when choosing one or the other is to “choose the one that each one likes it more, or alternate between the different varieties that exist ».

María José Sánchez, head of the AINIA Consumer Department, for her part differentiates its benefits based on colour: «Olives are a food of great nutritional value, with black olives being greater than green olives due to their longer permanence on the tree . . The green ones are picked when they are still immature and the black ones are picked when the ripening has come to an end.”

Today there are countless product presentations in supermarkets: in glass, plastic or canned containers, with different formats and sizes, coming from different places and with various preparations and seasonings… Even so, it is also possible to purchase of olives in bulk, especially in specialized stores, markets. You will ask yourself, “among so much variety, which one do I choose in the supermarket?”

Ana Colomer knows how to select the most suitable ones: «When buying olives we must find out about the composition of the liquid in which they are found. This liquid is known as the ‘governing liquid’ and must be discarded before consumption , since it contains a high amount of salt and/or sugars that help to preserve food correctly. For the expert, the ideal is to rinse the olives before eating them to remove any trace of that government liquid.

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