4 Benefits of Eating Olives on a Regular Basis

There are several health advantages to eating olives.

Olives are one of the staples of the Mediterranean Diet, which is well-known for improving cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, says Montserrat Fitó, MD, Ph.D., coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain.

But what exactly is it about those salty, plump morsels that make them such an important part of the top-rated diet of 2022, according to U.S. News & World Report? We share the benefits of eating olives and why adding them to your diet is a healthy option.

01 of 05

Packed With Antioxidants

Olives—whether black, green, or stuffed with blue cheese—are loaded with Vitamin E and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. To break that down a little, antioxidants are potent compounds that fight free radicals in the body, which can help protect cells and prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Antioxidants also help protect your immune system, helping you avoid getting sick and keeping you healthy as you age. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, meaning it's better absorbed into your bloodstream when combined with fat—just like in that perfect little olive package nature cleverly designed.

02 of 05

Full of Healthy Fats

Olives are packed with monounsaturated fats, which qualify as healthy fats that can reduce the risk of heart disease and potentially decrease inflammation in the body. It is these fats that are extracted to make olive oil, which we all know and love as one of the healthiest ways to dress up a salad or a bowl of pasta.

03 of 05

Increased Iron

This is specific to black olives, including Kalamatas. Those dark little fruits (yes, olives are technically a fruit!) contain a good dose of iron, an essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen to the blood.

Iron deficiency is quite common among women and could be why you feel fatigued, lightheaded, or have cold hands and feet. Just 100 grams of olives provides about 16 percent of the recommended daily amount for women ages 19 to 40.

04 of 05

Added Fiber

The benefit of eating the whole olive and not just the oil is that you get an added dose of dietary fiber, which helps keep you full and your digestive system operating smoothly. It's not a huge amount, but we'll take any excuse to sprinkle a few of those savory bursts of flavor onto our plates any day.

05 of 05

Additional Tips for Olive Nutritional Benefits

If you don't like the taste of olives, reap many of the same health benefits with olive oil—just be sure to use it at low to medium heat. There are also companies like Olyxir, which makes teas and chocolates from olive leaves, meaning you get all the antioxidants and vitamins with none of the olive taste.

If you do like olives, in addition to popping them straight, try making a tapenade, serving them over fish or chicken, or in a salad with radicchio.

Was this page helpful?
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Bonaccio M, Di Castelnuovo A, De Curtis A, et al. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower platelet and leukocyte counts: results from the Moli-sani study. Blood. 2014;123(19):3037-3044. doi:10.1182/blood-2013-12-541672

  2. Georgoulis M, Kontogianni MD, Yiannakouris N. Mediterranean diet and diabetes: prevention and treatmentNutrients. 2014;6(4):1406-1423. doi:10.3390/nu6041406

  3. Hernáez Á, Castañer O, Elosua R, et al. Mediterranean diet improves high-density lipoprotein function in high-cardiovascular-risk individuals: a randomized controlled trial. Circulation. 2017;135(7):633-643. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.023712

  4. U.S. News & World Report. Best Diets Overall 2022. Accessed December 5, 2022.

  5. Marcelino G, Hiane PA, Freitas KC, et al. Effects of olive oil and its minor components on cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and gut microbiotaNutrients. 2019;11(8):1826. doi:10.3390/nu11081826

  6. Lewis ED, Meydani SN, Wu D. Regulatory role of vitamin E in the immune system and inflammationIUBMB Life. 2019;71(4):487-494. doi:10.1002/iub.1976

  7. Tuttolomondo A, Simonetta I, Daidone M, Mogavero A, Ortello A, Pinto A. Metabolic and vascular effect of the Mediterranean dietInt J Mol Sci. 2019;20(19):4716. doi:10.3390/ijms20194716

  8. Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human healthJ Res Med Sci. 2014;19(2):164-174.

Related Articles