Olive fruit Health benefits and Side effects


Olive fruit is one of the vital components of the Mediterranean diet and it’s derived from the olive tree (Olea europaea), olives are importance is well documented in the Bible, the Holy Quran, and modern scientific literature. Several research studies proved that the incidence of various diseases like heart and cancers is lowest in the Mediterranean diet because they use olives and olive products (1). Olive fruit health benefits are it’s good for heart, skin, treats spinal cord and bone injury.

Olive fruit is small size fruit, blackish-violet when ripe, it’s not used as a natural fruit because of its bitter taste (due to oleuropein) and consumed either as olive oil or table olives. Each fruit consists of seed (13-23 %), the pulp (84–90%) and skin.

Olives are available in three types (2)

  1. Spanish-style (pickled) green olives in brine
  2. Californian-style (pickled) black olives in brine
  3. Greek-style natural black olives in brine

Geographical distribution

Olive trees are normally distributed in the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean basin, the contiguous coastal areas of southeastern Europe, northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea, western Asia, and northern Africa.

Constituents of Olive fruit

Olive fruit is made up of water (about 50%) and fats (20%), and the remaining part is nitrogenous compounds, cellulose, sugars, and secondary metabolites like flavonoids, secoiridoids, secoiridoid glycosides such as oleuropein, and phenolics such as tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, and their derivatives (3), each olive contains following

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water 79..99 g
Energy 116 Kcal
Protein 0.84 g
Total lipid (fat) 10.9 g
Carbohydrate, by the difference 6.04 g
Fiber, total dietary 1.6 g
Calcium 88 mg
Iron 6.28 mg
Magnesium 4 mg
Phosphorus 3 mg
Potassium 8 mg
Sodium 735 mg
Zinc 0.22 mg
Copper 0.25 mg
Manganese 0.02 mg
Thiamin 0.003 mg
Niacin 0.04 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.015 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.010 mg
Vitamin  A 330 IU
Vitamin E 1.65 mg
Vitamin C 0.9 mg
Vitamin K 1.4 µg
Fatty acids, total saturated 2.28 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 7.65 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.63 g

Health benefits of Olive fruit

Olive fruit health benefits are mainly because of the compound oleuropein. It helps in delaying the age and also prevents bone loss and cancer.

1. Antioxidant properties of Olive fruits

Olive fruits contains a rich amount of antioxidants like phenol (hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol), polyphenols (oleuropein glucoside) and secoiridoids, lignans which play an important role in the management of various diseases (4).

2. Antimicrobial properties of Olive fruits

Oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and secoiridoides in the olive fruits prevent or delay the rate of growth of a range of bacteria and microfungi such as Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Salmonella typhi, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio cholera, Staphylococcus aureus and other microbes that cause intestinal or respiratory tract infections (5).

3. Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties

Olive fruit is safe, cheaper and contains a good amount of phenols and polyphenols like hydroxytyrosol which show the wonderful effect on the reduction of inflammation such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis disease as well as maintain or regulate the genes involved in this process (6).

It also contains oleuropein and its derivative oleocanthal which has analgesic activity therefore olive leaves block the blocking of the detection of pain by sensory neurons (7).

4. Anticancer properties

The presence of maslinic acid, oleuropein, squalene, terpenoids and hydroxytyrosol in olives is responsible to stop the growth of colon and breast cancer (8). Thus consumption of olives acts as natural defense agents that inhibit cell growth by cell cycle arrest and induce apoptosis (9).

5. Treat age-related bone loss

Oleuropein found in olives prevents age-related bone loss by increasing osteoblast differentiation and a decrease in adipocyte differentiation which further involved in osteoporosis (10).

6. Anti-aging properties

Olive and their constituents contain oleuropein which shows high antioxidant activity, scavenge free radicals, increase lifespan and resistant to stress. Thus, olive delay in the appearance of senescence (15 %) and aging (11).

7. Treat spinal cord injury

Oleuropein present in olives plays an important role in the treatment of spinal cord injury by modulating neutrophil infiltration (12).

8. Healthy heart

Olives contain oleuropein which is beneficial to decrease plasma lipid peroxidation, total cholesterol, and triglyceride concentrations. Thus consumption of olives in the diet is helpful for the treatment of ischemia (13). The oleuropein is also useful to reduce lipid accumulation in the liver thus protect from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (14).

9. Healthy skin

Olive fruit is very beneficial for the skin it is useful as a skin cleanser because it contains oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and squalene which protect skin against UV light and radiation as well as scavenge free radicals at the skin (15).

Side effects of olive fruits

1. Allergy

If you are allergic to olive pollen, you should avoid intake of olives because it may cause contact dermatitis, food allergy (respiratory allergy), itching and urticaria in hand mouth and throat due to olive-olive syndrome (16, 17).

2. Presence of heavy metal

Olive contains some heavy metals such as Boron, barium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, lithium, nickel, strontium, tin and zirconium. These heavy metals may cause cancer, reduce defense, damage the brain and cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (18).

However, these heavy metal contaminants (cadmium, nickel, and tin) were always below the legal limit (19).

Super Summary

Olive fruits are grown mainly in the Mediterranean region. Olive fruit health benefits are mainly because of compound Oleuropein. the Oleuropein acts as a skin cleanser thus prevents age-related issues it also helps in protecting bone loss. Other olive fruit health benefits are Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties also keeps the heart-healthy.

Edited By: Asha Jyoti Bharati


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4057827/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317714/
  3. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169094/nutrients
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562514/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10504039/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930455/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20132039
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18790561
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15554560
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20495905/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17518699/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22395142/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16857843/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227229/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263051/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20128426
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22385802
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20696237
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18800801



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