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Dr Russ Blog - A World (of Health) in an Olive
A World (of Health) in an Olive
Created on 11/29/2011

Olives might be an afterthought at your home, at best a unique snack to enjoy from time to time. For others, especially those following a Mediterranean-style diet, olives instead hold a place of honor on the dinner table - and well they should.

Olives and high quality extra virgin olive oil not only taste good, and add unique flavor to some of our favorite recipes, they also can provide important health benefits. So much so, in fact, that some researchers believe the main reason a Mediterranean diet is so good for us is because of the olive. 

Why?

Because olives contain some interesting compounds that possess unique capacities including anti-cancer activity, anti-inflammatory actions, and antioxidant potential.

Pretty good for something that comes in such a small package.

A few things to keep in mind:

- Strictly speaking, following a Mediterranean diet might mean eating up to 8-10 olives a day, or having about 2-4 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil a day (either in your recipes or as a dip for your bread)

- Olives can be good for you, and black olives may be even better for you than green olives, but you need to watch out for sodium - many olives are brined and so are very high in sodium - look for low sodium varieties.

- High quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be pricey, but it's worth it, both for taste and health benefits. One way to identify a good EVOO is its taste - if you get a sense of pepper in the back of your throat it is probably a high quality oil - that slight bitterness is usually a sign of the presence of a compound that has been likened to ibuprofen for its anti-inflammatory actions.

You don't have to eat 8-10 olives every day, or drink a cup of EVOO each morning (that simply is not on my favorite beverage list...) - but it is worthwhile to reach for a few olives as a snack on occasion, perhaps add some olive meat pieces to your healthy pizza, and choose high quality EVOO to cook and enjoy your bread with.

Olives and EVOO taste really good, and they can be really good for you.

Mangia! And be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **


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