Are Green Or Black Olives Healthier? Is There A Difference?

Olives are a common and very interesting appetizer many people enjoy eating. The olive (Olea europaea) is actually a small tree usually found in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but also in some other parts of the world like Oceania and the United States. The olive tree’s fruit – also called an olive – is very popular, which is why we are going to talk about it in today’s article. The topic of today’s article is going to be the difference between green and black olives, and which of the two is healthier.

Green and black olives are practically equally healthy and the different coloration is only a consequence of the fruit’s ripeness.

Furthermore, there are some differences between the two that we will go through in this article. So, what else can you expect from this article? We are going to inform you about the benefits of eating olives. After that, you’re going to find out whether there’s a difference between green and black olives and which is actually healthier if any. Finally, we are going to tell you about the benefits and everything else you need to know if you plan on eating olives on a daily basis.

Are olives a healthy snack?

If you were wondering whether olives are a healthy snack – yes, they are. They have a number of health benefits and which we are going to discuss in the following paragraphs.

First of all, olives are well known to be a great support for good heart health. Olives contain a lot of monounsaturated fats, a type of fat that is considered healthy for humans, especially one’s heart. “Live” olives actually have less such fats than olive oil, but olives tend to have more fibers than olive oil, which is why they are recommended over the oil. You should, however, consult the appropriate health professional when it comes to addressing any heart concerns. Several studies suggest that replacing your every-day fats with monounsaturated fats has long-term effect and can significantly reduce the risk of inflammation and/or heart disease.

Olives are also good for losing weight. This is based on the fact that olives (and olive oil) are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, a specific type of diet that focuses on consuming whole foods and seafood typical of the Mediterranean area. This type of diet has a lot of health benefits, weight loss being just one of them. Studies have shown that a person may lose between 1 – 4.5 lbs (2.2 and 10.1 kg) by adhering to this diet.

Another health benefit of olives is that they contain a lot of antioxidants and may reduce the risk of cancer. The pulpy residue of olives is shown to increase the levels of glutathione, the strongest antioxidant in your body, which could reduce the risk of cancer; studies on animals have shown that olives reduce the risk of cancer, but this still needs to be confirmed on humans. The same goes for reducing the risk of bone diseases – studies on animals have shown some positive effects, but it still needs to be tested on humans.

Let us see the nutritive value of 1.2 oz (34 grams) of olives, based on their type:

  Black olives Green olives
Calories 36 49
Carbs 0.07 oz (2 grams) 0.04 oz (1 gram)
Protein less than 0.04 oz (1 gram) less than 0.04 oz (1 gram)
Total fat 0.1 oz (3 grams) 0.18 oz (5 grams)
Monounsaturated fat 0.07 oz (2 grams) 0.14 oz (4 grams)
Saturated fat 2% of the Daily Value (DV) 3% of the DV
Fiber 3% of the DV 4% of the DV
Sodium 11% of the DV 23% of the DV

The difference between green and black olives, and which are healthier?

If you examined the table above, you’ve probably deduced what we are going to talk about in this topic – the difference between green and black olives. The question of color in olives is closely related to their ripeness – depending on the phase, an olive will either be green (full size, but unripe), purple-ish (semi-ripe, can be any color between red and brown) and black (fully ripe). So, it is the same olive, just with a different time stamp. In that aspect – there is no difference.

There is some difference in their nutrient value and some other elements like the taste (green olives tend to be more bitter), but the differences are – as you can observe – small. Green olives contain more calories, but their overall number is still small enough to consider them to be healthy, although black olives might be a tad healthier in comparison as they contain less harmful substances.

If you’re wondering which ones to pick if you like a moderate taste, oxidized black olives are the most moderate you can find, although real olive lovers won’t actually consider them as real, natural olives.

Is it okay to eat olives every day? What are the benefits of such a diet?

Seeing all the health benefits and adding the fact that you really do like to eat olives, you might ask yourself – is it healthy and good to eat olives every day? Well, that bit is a tad tricky, compared to the rest. Namely, since olives are generally healthy, you might think that you could eat them all the time.

The thing is, it’s not like that. The goal is to be moderate. Namely, despite all the health benefits, olives are also full of sodium, salt, and have a reasonable amount of unhealthy fats. So, while you will certainly benefit from eating olives every day, you’ll have to be moderate, as that is the key to enjoying the full benefits of olives. If you, actually, overdo it – you might, ironically, have some heart issues (due to a lot of salt and sodium) and gain weight (due to the fats), both things olives are supposed to decrease the risk of. This just shows how even healthy substances can do damage to our bodies if we don’t know how to control them and use them moderately.

How many olives should you eat a day?

Well, first of all, we want you to know that there is no fully precise answer to this question simply because people are different and what might be much for you or your friend might be very little for someone with a different type of body. But let us see some numbers.

A regular serving of olives usually consists of five to ten individual olives.This means that if you want to use olives instead of vegetables, you’d have to eat about thirty olives, which is – by all standards – too many, even if you’re a hardcore fan of olives. As we said above, olives consist of “bad fats”, a lot of sodium, and are salty, which means that if you eat too many – you can do some damage, instead of some good to yourself.

In addition to that, olives can contain heavy metals and you know that if you consume more than you should, you could get heavy metal poisoning which is a very dangerous illness. Metals present in olives are boron, lithium, sulphur, and tin. And while olives are generally considered to be safe when heavy metals are concerned, large quantities can become unsafe for you. There is also a risk with some varieties of olives that they contain large amounts of acrylamide, a substance some scientists link with an increased risk of cancer; this is another reason to avoid larger amounts of daily olive intake.

So, based on what we’ve seen about the hazards of eating too many olives per day, one may determine that a good amount of olives (based on one’s height and weight) per day would be between 2–3 ounces (56 and 84 grams), which would amount to 16 to 24 individual olives.

And that’s it! We’ve seen that olives are generally good for your well being and that they have a lot of benefits for your health and your body. The difference between green and black olives is minimal, with some differences in taste and structure, based on the time passed and the stage of an olive’s ripeness. As for daily intake, despite the benefits, you need to be moderate, since too many olives might do some harm to your health.


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