The nutritional value of olives and what consumers should look out for

On the occasion of the olive harvest season, an export product of great interest in international markets, EFET informs consumers about table olive, which is an integral part of the Mediterranean Greek diet, especially in times of fasting, such as during the fasting season. of its nutritional value as well as its tasty and aromatic ingredients.

The olive tree is the fruit of the tree named Latin Olea europaea L. The olive fruit must first be suitable for consumption as a table olive, and must then be salted or brine-treated. vinegar or olive oil.

Depending on the variety, cultivation conditions, processing and storage conditions, table olive may present some differences in its nutritional profile. In general, fatty acids in table olives are present in about 13% to 40%. The main fatty acids in olive oil are monounsaturated fatty acids (~ 73% of total fat), while saturated fats are significantly less (~ 11% –12% of total fat). There is a wealth of scientific research demonstrating the health benefits of monounsaturated fatty acids, especially when replacing saturated fatty acids (eg, lowering “bad” cholesterol).

Olive, like many fruits and vegetables, in addition to essential nutrients for the body, contains phenolic compounds with multiple health benefits. According to the National Nutrition Guides, 50% of the phenolic compounds contained in olives and virgin olive oil are hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives. It is worth noting that there is an approved health claim by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding olive oil polyphenols and the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress, with specific conditions of use.

Although no health claim for table olives has yet been approved by the European Union, we must emphasize that table olives and olive oil are important elements of the Mediterranean diet, a model of nutrition that is consistent with good health and quality of life. .

Finally, since olives are usually salted or preserved in brine for olive extraction, the salt content in table olives can be high (it can range from 2g to 6g of salt per 100g of olive). In fact, salt intake can exceed 3g when one consumes a serving equivalent to about 10 – 12 olives a day. Given the World Health Organization’s recommended salt intake of less than 5g per day of all foods and added salt, consumers should be careful in their dietary intake of salt. Consumers are advised to include Greek table olives in their diet by sourcing it before eating or choosing the least salt.

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