Healthy Benefits of Green Olives
By Daniel Gastelu
Olives are a staple in the healthy Mediterranean diet, so they attract research attention on their healthy benefits. These include anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation, which are of interest to anybody looking to improve health, especially active fitness people. But, there might be more health benefits associated with eating olives such as improving body composition. This article is a summary of the research conducted by Giulia Accardi and coworkers on the nutraceutical effects of table green olives, also referred to as Nocellara del Belice olives.
The Green Olive Study Design
This study was a pilot study without a placebo group and included 25 healthy male and female subjects with an age range of 18 to 65. For 30 days, the subjects ate 12 green olives per day. Experimental measures included anthropometric, biochemical, oxidative stress, cytokines analyses, and an evaluation to determine effects on probiotic populations like lactobacilli.
Study Results of the Healthy Benefits of Green Olives
After only 30 days of eating 12 green olives per day, these were the observable benefits:
- Fat mass percentage reduced from 29.7% to 28%.
- Muscle mass percentage increased from 66.97% to 68.36%.
- Total body weight was decreased from 70.44 Kg to 69.93 Kg.
- BMI decreased from 24.37 to 24.24.
- The level of interleukeukin-6 decreased significantly, demonstrating how the ability to modulate the inflammatory response and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Reduction of malondialdehyde related to oxidative stress, indicating favorable anti-oxidant activity.
- Regarding Lactobacilli, there was a non-significant increase trend.
Possible Result Explanations to the Healthy Benefits of Green Olives
It’s possible the body composition changes were related to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content. This is because CLA has action mechanisms to support reduction in body fat and increases in muscle mass; such as increasing lipolysis in human fat cells, reducing size of fat cells, and diminishing the synthesis of fatty acids; increase oxidation of fatty acids in skeletal muscle; improved body composition and energetic metabolism. The numerous phytonutrients, including polyphenols such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, contribute to the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, in addition to some vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
These nutraceutical effects certainly make green olives interesting for people who want to improve the health of their diets, especially beneficial for active people, making green olives a functional food and fitness food.
What is a Functional Food?
In the USA, the FDA lacks a definition or regulation for function foods on labelling. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines functional foods as: "whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence."
In Canada “Functional foods are foods enhanced with bioactive ingredients and which have demonstrated health benefits, such as probiotic yogurt, or breads and pasta with added pea fibre.”
The common feature of functional foods is having a demonstrated health benefit. For more information on nutrition to support sports and fitness demands, check out the ISSA Specialist in Sports Nutrition.
Accardi G, Aiello A, Gargano V, Gambino CM, Caracappa S, Marineo S, Vesco G, Carru C, Zinellu A, Zarcone M, Caruso C, Candore G. Nutraceutical effects of table green olives: a pilot study with Nocellara del Belice olives. Immun Ageing. 2016;13:11. doi:10.1186/s12979-016-0067-y.
Specialist In Sports Nutrition Course, ISSA, 2018 Updated and Expanded 5th Edition.