Are olives fattening or good for weight loss?
Olives are small fruits that grow on olive trees. They are usually green or black in colour, depending on when they are picked. Olives contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, iron, calcium and copper, which are needed for good health.
Olives are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered to be a very healthy way of eating. Olives are also enjoyed worldwide in numerous recipes including salads, breads, hummus, sandwiches and pizza. They can also simply be eaten on their own.
Because olives are high in fat, you may be wondering if eating them will make you gain weight. The short answer is no. If you are watching your waistline, you don’t need to fear olives, so long as you eat them in reasonable amounts.
What causes weight gain?
Eating fat does not necessarily make you fat; eating more calories than you burn is what leads to weight gain over time. This is because the excess calories that you consume are stored as fat around the body. These excess calories can be from fat, protein or carbs.
Calorie requirements differ from person to person and are determined by an individuals age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. You can estimate your calorie requirements using the tool below.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 40 year old lady who weighs 60 kg (132 lbs), is 170 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week will require approximately 2000 calories to maintain her weight, 1600 calories to lose weight and 1200 calories to lose weight fast.
Even though olives contain fat, they are low in calories. A small olive has around 4 calories whereas a jumbo olive has 7 calories. This means that even on a 1200 calorie diet, 10 jumbo sized olives would only account for roughly 6 percent of total calories.
Most of the fat found in olives is monounsaturated fat, which is also found in large amounts in other healthy foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated fat can lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
Studies have also found that eating healthy fat and fiber together may help reduce the speed at which the stomach releases food, meaning you feel satisfied for longer.
For this reason, olives should not be avoided, even when you are trying to lose weight. As long as you eat them in moderation, they will not make you fat.
Can olives be fattening?
Any food, if eaten in abundance can lead to weight gain, simply because too many calories will be consumed. However in order for olives to cause weight gain, you would have to eat a very large amount, which most people would be unable to do.
One thing to note however is that olives tend to be high in sodium, because they are usually stored in brine (a concentrated solution made by dissolving salt in water) in order to preserve them. 100 g of olives provides you with 65% of your daily sodium intake. Not only can a high sodium diet negatively affect blood pressure, it also causes water retention. This means that eating a large amount of olives might cause you to gain water weight in the short term.
Even though water weight is different from fat, it will still show up when you step on the scale and might make you look bloated. Because of this, it is important to eat olives in moderate quantities and not overindulge. Having 10 – 15 olives a day is fine but having 100+ is definitely not recommended.
The health benefits of eating olives
Olives are used to prepare extra virgin olive oil, which is well known for being a healthy type of fat to add to your diet.
Many studies have been carried out on the health benefits of consuming olive oil and some of these benefits also translate to consuming olives themselves.
Olives are rich in antioxidants (in particular polyphenols), which can reduce damage caused by free radicals to cells in the body. This in turn can help prevent diseases such as cancer.
Olives may also help to lower cholesterol levels, relieve pain by reducing inflammation, boost heart health, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and fight off certain infections.
To reap the benefits that olives have to offer, ensure that you eat them in a healthy manner. There are plenty of weight loss friendly olive based recipes available on the web.
For example, this Italian bean & olive salad makes use of yellow peppers, red peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar & basil leaves and only has 102 calories per serving.
Using olives in recipes where many of the ingredients are vegetables and fruits means that you get a lot of nutritional value for very few calories.
Provided that olives are eaten in reasonable quantities, they will not lead to weight gain. Olives should be part of a diet that has vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs.