Olives are a staple of the Mediterranean diet and offer numerous health benefits. These small fruits grow on olive trees (Olea europaea) and are turned into oil or used as table olives.
But are olives vegan? Yes, olives are vegan. Olives are a fruit that grows on olive trees and doesn’t contain any animal products. Because raw olives are very bitter, they must be cured or fermented to become palatable. The curing process may involve the use of lye, brine, or salt packing, which are vegan-friendly.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about olives, including nutrition facts and health benefits.
Benefits of Olives
Olives are a popular vegan food and offer numerous health benefits. Including olives in your diet may improve your overall health and provide other advantages, including:
Improved Heart Health
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are the two biggest risk factors for heart disease.
Studies have found that oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olives, improves heart health. Oleic acid may regulate cholesterol levels and prevents LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Several studies also note that consuming olives and olive oil may reduce blood pressure, thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
Olives and olive oil are staples of the Mediterranean diet, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, head and neck cancers, and colorectal cancer.
The olive’s cancer-preventative properties may stem from its high antioxidant and oleic acid contents. Studies have shown that these compounds hinder the life cycle of cancer cells in the colon, stomach, and breasts.
Improved Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures. Certain plant compounds found in olives and olive oil have been shown to prevent bone loss in test-tube and animal studies.
Furthermore, Mediterranean countries have lower rates of osteoporosis than the rest of Europe, causing scientists to believe that olives can protect against this condition.
Studies also suggest that following a Mediterranean diet may help lower the risk of bone fractures.
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions like cancer and heart disease. Olives are chock full of antioxidants which provide many health benefits, including reduced inflammation and microorganism growth.
A study has shown that eating olive pulp increases blood levels of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants.
Nutritional Value of Olives
Ripe, canned olives contain 116 calories per 100 grams or around 59 calories for 10 olives.
When it comes to nutritional value, 100 grams of ripe, canned olives contain:
- Calories: 116
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Fat: 10.9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 6.04 grams
- Fiber: 1.6 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
Olives contain 11% to 15% fat, most of which is oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid. Oleic acid is associated with several health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, and decreased inflammation, and may even help prevent cancer.
Olives are considered a low-carb fruit because they consist of only 4% to 6% of carbs. The majority of these carbs are fiber which makes up 52% to 86% of the total carb content.
However, olives are a very poor source of fiber, as 10 olives provide only 1.5 grams of fiber.
Olives are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, some of which are added during processing.
This tiny fruit is a good source of vitamin E, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Olives are also high in sodium since they are packed in salt or brine.
Can Vegans Eat Olives?
Olives are tiny fruit that grows on olive trees and is vegan-friendly. Olives are closely related to cherries, peaches, mangos, pistachios, and almonds. All of these fruits belong to the same group, called drupes or stone fruit.
The International Olive Council (IOC) classifies olives into three groups according to the level of ripeness before harvesting:
- Green olives: These olives are picked unripe when they have reached their full size. Green olives usually come in shades of green and yellow.
- Semi-ripe olives: These olives are picked when they begin changing colors from green to various shades of red and brown. Only the skin of semi-ripe olives is colored because the fruit’s flesh lacks pigments at this stage.
- Black olives: Picked when fully ripe, black olives have purple, brown, or black colors. To neutralize the bitterness of oleuropein, commercial olive producers use lye, giving the olives a mild flavor and soft texture. Kalamata olives are among the most popular varieties of Greek black olives.
Regardless of their color, all varieties of olives are plant-based and suitable for vegans.
Can Vegans Eat Olive Oil?
Yes, vegans can eat olive oil. Olive oil is a plant-based oil extracted from olive fruits and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Even though no animal products are used in the production, olive oil isn’t sustainable. The production of olive oil has several adverse environmental effects, including depletion of resources and land degradation.
Some vegans choose not to use olive oil because they find the olive oil production process too exploitative for the environment. If you’re against exploitative manufacturing practices, research different olive oil producers to find the one that uses eco-friendly practices.
Olives are a popular fruit and a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Olives grow on olive trees and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
There are many varieties of olives, but they are naturally very bitter. To become palatable, olives must be cured or fermented using lye, brine, or salt packing. Ingredients used in the fermentation process are plant-based and suitable for vegans.
Olives are incredibly healthy, regardless of color and variety, and are associated with many health benefits. Adding olives to your diet can help prevent several types of cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve bone health, among other things.