Are Green Olives Healthy?

Olives are one of the oldest foods known to man. The olive tree was valued as a symbol of peace and happiness, while olives were used as food and a source of oil. This role of olive fruit and oil in the human nutrition hasn’t changed in the present days. Olives are a delicious addition to meals or appetizers (mezes). They are low in carbs, but high in healthy fats. They also contain small amounts of key vitamins and minerals, as well as polyphenols, which can boost your immune system.


Green Olives on a Tree

Olives belong to a group of fruit called drupes, or stone fruits. They are oval-shaped, weighing about 3–5 grams. Olives come in many sizes and varieties. Olives and their product – Extra Virgin Olive Oil are main components of the amazingly healthy Mediterranean diet (Read more…)  


  • Green olives: Harvested in October at the earliest stages of maturity

  • “Pink” olives:   these have a rose /or brown color and are harvested  prior to reaching full maturity

  • Black olives: Harvested in December at full maturity

GREEN OLIVES are cropped when they are unripe (note: there are olives that remain green even when fully ripe). They are saturated in the lye solution, for maturing they are kept in solution for 6-12 months before packing. Green olives are often loaded down with almonds, garlic, onions or pimiento (red sweet pepper). The recommended serving size is 5-6 medium olives.

Glass Jar with Raw Green Olives

Raw or fresh olives are naturally very bitter. In order to make them palatable, olives must be cured and fermented, thereby removing oleuropein – a bitter phenolic compound. The curing process may take a few days, with lye (a strongly alkaline solution),  to a few months with brine or salt packing.

Are Green Olives Healthy? Green Olives are really beneficial for health. The nutrients present in the olives, such vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats cure our body of many types of diseases.

Green olives (100 grams), canned or pickled have:

  • Calories: 145

  • Total fat: 17g

  • Sodium: 1556mg (65%)

  • Potassium: 42mg

  • Carbohydrates: 3,3g

              -Net carbs: 1g

              -Fiber: 2,3g

  • Protein: 1g

  • Vitamins & Minerals: 

  • Vitamin A (8%)

  • Vitamin E (19%)

  • Calcium (5%)

  • Iron (3%)

  • Magnesium (3%)

  • Fatty acids

  • Amino acids

As a high-sodium food, you might ask, “Are they really good for you?” With a serving this large (100 grams), the sodium content is high, but when eaten in correct serving sizes, green olives are very healthy.

Green Olives in Olive Oil


Although the fat content in green olives is also high, it’s primarily “good fat.” These olives provide monounsaturated fatty acids, which are linked with a number of health benefits like lowering inflammation and helping fight heart disease. These fats are a great substitute for harmful fats.


Processing methods (often) rely on local traditions, which affect olive taste, color and texture. Lactic acid is important during fermentation. It is a natural preservative which protects olives from harmful bacteria. Such fermented olives have probiotic effects in the body (probiotics stimulate the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties), that could lead to improved digestive health.


Green Olives with different Cheeses

  1. Support Your Cardiovascular Health

  2. Lower Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

  3. Lower Risk for Diabetes and Obesity

  4. Prevent Cancer

  5. Help Fight Infections

  6. Prevent Osteoporosis

  7. Work as a Natural Probiotic

  8. Provide Tons of Antioxidants

  9. Relieve Pain

  10. Great for Your Eyes and Skin

  11. Reduce your appetite

  12. Give you more energy


  • Olives contribute to the prevention of diseases of the heart and vessels.

  • Monounsaturated fats in olives help balance cholesterol levels, thus preventing cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of heart attack.

  • Olives have a therapeutic effect in arthritis, osteochondrosis etc. – diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

  • The calcium contained in olives is important in the strengthening of bone tissue, which takes part in the formation of the joints.

  • Olives have a therapeutic effect on the articular tissue, due to the high content of vitamins C and E.

  • Vitamin E, in addition, protects against oxidation in the body due to the large quantities of the polyunsaturated fatty acid in olives.

  • The presence of monounsaturated fats in olives helps decrease the amount of fat around the stomach area, thus resulting in weight loss.


Black and Green Olives on White Plate

Black and green olives are the two most common varieties sold in supermarkets. Analyzing the nutritional information for both will help you decide which belongs in your diet plan.

– Compare the Basics

Green olives have more calories and fats per service than black ones. However, both types of olives contain less than 1 gram of protein and about 3 grams of fiber per serving.

– Consider Vitamin and Mineral Content

If you’re looking to boost your iron intake, black olives are the way to go. On the other hand, green olives contain more than twice the amount of vitamin E as black olives.  Vitamin E helps protect your cells from damage. Both varieties supply about the same amount of vitamin A, a nutrient essential for healthy eyes, skin and bones.

– Sodium Stats

Sodium is one drawback of olives. Sodium appears as a result of adding salt during processing/fermentation of olives. A serving of black olives contains 735mg, which is about half of the 1,500 milligrams – a daily limit according to the American Heart Association. Green olives contain more than a day’s worth, with 1,556 milligrams of sodium per serving. Too much sodium contributes to a higher blood pressure.

The healthiest type of olive depends on what your health goals are. If you’re looking to reduce your saturated fat intake, black olives are the better choice. If you’re trying to boost your vitamin E intake, green olives are a healthier option. People who need to limit their sodium intake should make olives only an occasional part of their diet.


-ALLERGY: Allergy to olives is rare.  However, after eating olives, sensitive individuals may experience allergic reactions in the mouth and throat.

-HEAVY METALS:  Olives may contain minor amounts of heavy metals and minerals like boron, sulfur, tin, lithium.

-ACRYLAMIDE:  Acrylamide has been linked with an increased risk of cancer in some studies, although more recent studies are questioning the connection. Some olive varieties may contain acrylamide as a result of processing.


Green Olives with Cheese as Appetizer

– Step outside the supermarket. Head to the local farmers market, to get the best, close-to-organic quality.

– Look for organic brands that have been “traditionally cured”

– Look for olives soaked in a brine made from natural salts such as sun-dried sea salt or rock salt.

– Try to avoid buying canned olives from large-scale producers, which are more likely to be sprayed with pesticides during the growing process and then treated with harsh chemicals during processing.

– Buy the amount you need – olives that you’ll find in bins at the market, instead of canned versions.


Green Olives in Rocket Salad


On their own or  paired with meats and cheeses for a great appetizer /meze

–  Can be used to garnish fish or other dishes

–  In salads

–  For pizza

– In Olive  paté (a paste made from crushed olives),  enjoyed on crusty bread with raw veggies,  popular in Italy

–  Can be added to sauces for pasta

–  Can be ground into spreads or used as a condiment

–  In drinks:  martinis & various cocktails – in many tasty, stuffed varieties

Martini glass with Green Olive

Green olives pair well with many flavors and textures. No matter what the variety, they’re sure to add a burst of flavor and nutrition to any of your dishes!

Are Green Olives healthy? 5/5 experts say – YES!









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8 thoughts on “Are Green Olives Healthy?”

  1. I did a study and wrote a post on olives before and it is just amazing how healthy they are beside the fact that olives have been around for years. Your post is very informative with good information. A great breakdown for your readers.

    • Thank you, Norman. I’m glad you liked my post.
      You say that you did a study and wrote a post on olives. I’d like to read your post. I’m sure you did a great job

  2. Wow! Great post.
    I love olives, but had never thought of them as a fermented food. However after reading this article, it all makes sense. I have found the odd recipe that uses green olives, but they are few. I would like more!

    I doubt if my local farmers market has any traditionally-prepared olives, and I cannot be too sure about the olive bar at our bigger supermarkets. I am not sure where to look in our small city. Would a deli offer a better quality product in your opinion? Any help is appreciated!

    • Dear Irma,
      I promise you more recipes that use green olives in some of my future blog post
      Regarding your question: I believe that a deli would offer you a better quality. However, it’s always good to read a label before purchasing a product…

  3. I love olives so much that I have been eating them every day for over four years now! It is good to know that they are doing me some good! It is so weird because I crave them. Thank you for all the great facts that you presented!

    • I love them, too. I don’t eat them every single day but eat them often. My favorite olive combinations are: green olives in lettuce salad, Greek salad, with Feta cheese (as an appetizer) or paired with lentil soups.

  4. Hi Vesna,

    I have typically only enjoyed green olives in martinis, however now after reading this article i can see some benefits to eating them more often. Do you have any recipes for green olives?

    • Hi Dan,

      I’m glad you found my article informative. Unfortunately, I don’t have any blog post with green olive recipes but plan to have one soon.

      In this phase, I could only give you some ideas of how to enjoy green olives: you can eat them on their own or with Feta cheese, in Greek salad, lettuce & rocket salad, in your pizza or your favorite red sauce (for pasta or meat)…
      Thank you!

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