Life Extension Magazine®

Superfood olives

Superfood: Olives

Olives are rich in monounsaturated fat, linked to improved cardiovascular health and lower overall mortality

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in February 2024. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

Olive branches are known as a symbol of peace, but the olive fruit could serve as a symbol of health and longevity.

Olives contain components that have been shown to contribute to brain,1 heart, and vascular health, cancer risk reduction, weight loss, increased longevity, and more.1-3

Olives contain the second highest healthy fat content of any fruit. One cup of green olives contains about 21 grams of total fat,4 the majority of which is monounsaturated fat.  

Studies show that consuming a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids has beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors (particularly when substituted for saturated fat). These include:

  • reduced LDL cholesterol,5
  • decreased blood pressure,5
  • decreased HbA1c,6,7 and
  • improved insulin sensitivity.5,7

As a result, higher dietary intake of monounsaturated fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and total mortality.3,8

Eating olives increases blood levels of glutathione,7 an antioxidant whose functions include repairing DNA, supporting immune function, and transporting mercury out of the brain.9

As an added benefit, olives are a fermented food that boost the health of the microbiome and digestive system. Fermented foods provide antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-atherosclerotic activities.10

To include more olives in your diet, simply add them to salads, place atop pizza, chop them into chicken salad, or eat them with your favorite cheese and dried fruit.


  1. Boronat A, Serreli G, Rodríguez-Morató J, et al. Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds’ Activity against Age-Associated Cognitive Decline: Clinical and Experimental Evidence. Antioxidants. 2023;12(7):1472.
  2. Gaforio JJ, Visioli F, Alarcon-de-la-Lastra C, et al. Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 1;11(9).
  3. Jimenez-Sanchez A, Martinez-Ortega AJ, Remon-Ruiz PJ, et al. Therapeutic Properties and Use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Clinical Nutrition: A Narrative Review and Literature Update. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 31;14(7).
  4. Available at: Accessed November 17, 2023.
  5. Rocha J, Borges N, Pinho O. Table olives and health: a review. J Nutr Sci. 2020;9:e57.
  6. Schwingshackl L, Strasser B, Hoffmann G. Effects of monounsaturated fatty acids on glycaemic control in patients with abnormal glucose metabolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011 Oct;58(4):290-6.
  7. Seidita A, Soresi M, Giannitrapani L, et al. The clinical impact of an extra virgin olive oil enriched mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome: Lights and shadows of a nutraceutical approach. Front Nutr. 2022;9:980429.
  8. Wang DD, Li Y, Chiuve SE, et al. Association of Specific Dietary Fats With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Aug 1;176(8):1134-45.
  9. Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):8-12.
  10. Sanlier N, Gokcen BB, Sezgin AC. Health benefits of fermented foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(3):506-27.