black and green fresh olives

The health benefits of olives

Hailing from the balmy Mediterranean region, olives are a major ingredient in numerous dishes as well as a great savoury snack option. Beyond being a treat for your taste buds, did you know that they’re also great for your body?

Discover why these tiny stone fruits, and the oil they’re often made into, have so many amazing health benefits.

Top health benefits of olives

Olives grow on trees of the same name and are a particularly popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. They’re bursting with goodness, including the fact they:1
  1. Are packed with healthy fats

Olives are made up of about 10-15% fat. Don’t fear, though, as most of this is a good type of fat called oleic acid. Studies show that it can help the body’s immune response and support heart health.2
  1. Are hydrating

Olives are mostly made up of water, making them a great food to eat whole if you’re after some extra hydration. Typically, most olives are about 80% water.

  1. Are a source of vitamin E

As a fatty stone fruit, olives are a naturally good source of vitamin E. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, helping protect cells against free radical damage.
  1. Contain iron

If you choose to eat black olives, you’ll have the added health benefit of them being a source of iron. Iron is an essential nutrient which helps your red blood cells transport oxygen around the body.

How to include more olives in your diet

If you’re after ways to add more of these delicious and truly nutritious morsels into your diet, why not:

  • Cook more with olive oil

Around 90% of the olives grown in the Mediterranean are made into oil. Consider buying a good quality extra virgin olive oil and drizzling it onto salads, using it to make pesto or lightly frying vegetables in it for pasta dishes.

  • Add olives to salads

Olives makes a fantastic addition to salads. Simply de-stone them (if needed), cut them in half and then add them to other salad ingredients. Alternatively, slice up some black olives to add extra flavour to your homemade pizzas.

  • Eat olives as a healthy snack

Big, juicy olives are equally delicious eaten on their own. You’ll find a lot of olives are marinated in spices/oils or even stuffed with things like garlic or pimento. The recommended portion size for olives is 15g-20g (around four to five whole olives), so make sure you don’t eat more than that in one sitting.3
  • Make or buy tapenade

Tapenade is an olive-based spread that’s ideal for toast or for dipping. You can buy it ready-made or whip up a vegan version yourself by blending together some olives, capers, olive oil and lemon juice.4

Should anyone avoid eating olives?

Obviously, if you have an allergy or intolerance to olives, it’s best to avoid eating them. As olives are often stored in brine, they can be quite salty (one olive typically contains 0.1g of salt). If you’re trying to reduce your salt intake, rinse them before you eat them or only have a few olives at a time.

You’ll find bottles of extra virgin olive oil and packets of fresh olives in our extensive cooking range. For more diet and wellbeing tips, check out The Health Hub.

Last updated: 23 June 2020