(NaturalNews) Olives are much more than a tasty side dish to be enjoyed as an appetizer. They pack a punch when it comes to health, and as such, are ideal to add to meals like salads. In fact, studies have found that olives have compounds that help fight cancer, specifically of the colon and breast (1).
One study from the University of Barcelona discovered that the skin of an olive contains maslinic acid, which is known to kill off cancer cells and drastically slow down the growth of colon cancer cells. Impressively, the concentration of maslinic acid in olive skin may be as high as 80 percent (1).
The second study, this time conducted jointly by researchers at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Girona and the University of Granada, found that phenols in extra-virgin olive oil played a role in the death of breast cancer cells, a process called "apoptosis" (1).
It's no wonder then, that olives make the George Mateljan Foundation's list of The World's Healthiest Foods for their ability to fight cancer, among other things. In a description on their web site, it's stated that the "Antioxidant phytonutrients in olives may have a special ability to protect DNA (deoxyribonucleic acids)--the key chemical component of genetic material in our cells--from oxygen damage." (2)
Olives fight high cholesterol, inflammation too
In addition to combating cancer cells, olives can benefit health in other ways. Black olives, for example, have a high vitamin E content, which is vital for brain, lung and blood cell function (3). According to the National Institutes of Health, eating foods like olives which have a high unsaturated, healthy fat content helps boost the body's absorption of vitamin E.
Olives are also a way to help heart health as well as keep inflammation at bay. Their monounsaturated fat plays a role in regulating cholesterol levels, lowering the bad (LDL) and raising the good (HDL) levels (3). And according to the Arthritis Foundation, studies have shown a correlation between olive oil and inflammation; the compounds in olive oil can halt the production of inflammation in a way that words similarly to NSAIDs (4).
This is good news, especially considering that there are many harmful health effects that may result from taking NSAIDs. The Mayo Clinic says some problems that may arise from taking NSAIDs are mouth inflammation, night blindness and severe pain (5). A natural, healthy option like eating olives and using extra-virgin olive oil is a much better alternative to keep health in tip-top shape.
About the author: A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well.