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Articles Fitness Nutrition

The Nutrition of Olives

Aug 14, 2010

Olives give a zesty taste to just about any food. This is due to their intrinsic bitter flavor. One cup of olives, about 135 grams, supplies 155 calories of which 130 calories are supplied by fat. Saturated fat represents about 17 calories or about 1.8 grams. The fruit provides good amounts of vitamins A and E. It also provides significant amounts of iron, calcium, copper and dietary fiber. Although the fruit is high in fat content, the greater proportion is monounsaturated fats. This represents 75 percent of the fat content in the fruit or 10.5 grams. Olives are crushed or pressed to produce olive oil, a widely used ingredient in food preparation. The fruit is a powerful health booster.

Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene)

It is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin A helps to neutralize carcinogens in the body. This prevents the risk for various cancers. Studies have shown that high intake of vitamin A helps to prevent colon, stomach, prostrate and throat cancers. It has also been found to be a useful agent to inhibit growth of tumors in cases of lung cancer. Vitamin A assists in the growth and rejuvenation of damaged skin, tissue and cell membranes. It promotes healthy skin and sight. Many skin ailments can be prevented and treated with vitamin A. It also promotes strong teeth and bones.

Vitamin E

This fat soluble antioxidant fights free radicals in all areas of the body that contain fat. It helps to stabilize cellular processes. These processes can yield harmful by-products. The stabilizing effect of vitamin E helps to reduce generation of free radicals from biochemical processes such as energy production. Free radicals play an active role in oxidation of cholesterol. Once oxidized, cholesterol can build up in the arteries. It also causes more damage to blood vessels. This increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. Vitamin E helps to prevent this oxidation and reduces the risk of heart disease. It has also been found helpful in relieving hot flashes in menopausal women. Extra-virgin olive oil contains higher amounts of vitamin E than virgin, pure or extra-light olive oil. This is because it is not processed as much as other olive oils.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats protect the outer membranes of cells. When combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, these fats reduce the risk of damage to cells. Research has established that monounsaturated fats help to lower the risk of colon cancer. This is because the fats protect the DNA structure of colon cells. Together with vitamin E, the fats also help to destabilize free radicals. Monounsaturated fats also have anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions caused by free radicals. Monounsaturated fats can provide welcome relief to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma. Olive oil makes a healthier alternative to hydrogenated fats for culinary purposes. It doesn’t irritate the stomach unlike some oils.

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