Weighing up whether to add olives to your salad? This week’s Nutrition News covers recent studies into nutritional research that may inform your decision. Read more here.

Health benefits of olives

We are frequently told of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and now a recent article has explored the benefits specifically of one of the Med’s most iconic foods, the olive.

Registered dieticians spoke in this recent article about the numerous ways olives can help keep you healthy. From their antioxidant content to their role in supporting skin health, olives are a great source of nutrients. According to the RDs, olives can support health in a number of ways:

  • Reduce inflammation

The antioxidants in olives are thought to help reduce inflammation. As discussed in a recent Nutrition News article on the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, inflammation is useful to the body in small amounts but prolonged inflammation can become chronic and lead to health problems.

  • Regulate cholesterol

Olives contain the fatty acid oleic acid, which is reported to support heart health through reducing cholesterol.

  • Manage blood pressure

As well as supporting heart health through reducing cholesterol, the high oleic acid content, in addition to the antioxidant polyphenol content is found to manage hypertension (high blood pressure).

  • Support skin health

Olives are packed with vitamin E, which supports skin health, cell function and the immune system.

In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, olives contain a breadth of nutrients including vitamin A, copper, calcium, and several antioxidants, including oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleanolic acid, and quercetin. While these nutrients are considered beneficial to your health, it is important to watch out for the salt content as many shop-bought varieties are stored in brine, which, in excess, can raise blood pressure.

Nutrition for healthy ageing

As we get older, our nutritional needs change; this article by Healthline looks at some of the things we need to consider as we age.

Even if you might eat the same as you always have done, as you age your stomach produces less acid, which means certain nutrients, such as vitamins B6 and B12, iron, and calcium, become harder to absorb. This means that more of these nutrients are needed to meet the ageing body’s nutritional demands.

In addition to the body struggling to absorb certain nutrients as well as it did when it was younger, it also has greater nutrient requirements as a result of ageing bone mass loss, muscle loss, and a reduction in appetite. The article cites a number of nutrients in particular that are beneficial as we age, including calcium for bone health, omega 3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties and brain health, collagen for skin support, Co-enzyme Q10 for energy support, vitamin D for immune support, and B vitamins for a host of health support elements.

Whether these additional nutrients are secured through food or through food supplements, it’s important to pay close attention to nutrition as we get older to ensure our bodies stay healthy.

Flavonoid data shows link between gut health and lowered blood pressure

According to recent research from the Queen’s University Belfast, as reported by NutraIngredients, flavonoid-rich foods, such as berries, red wine, apples, and pears, which are rich in antioxidant activity, could reduce blood pressure through their effects on gut health.

The study involved over 900 adults and sequenced their gut microbiome composition and biochemical, phenotypic, and dietary data was taken. This revealed that those with the highest intake of flavonoids had lower systolic blood pressure levels and the greatest gut microbiome diversity. The results showed that the consumption of 80g berries per day led to an average reduction of 4.1 mm Hg in SPB levels, 12% of which was attributed to gut microbiome factors.

Speaking of the research lead investigator Professor Aedín Cassidy said, “our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolising flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood pressure lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet”.

While the study is observational and more research would be needed to fully qualify the findings, it is a promising to start to support the case for the link between gut health and heart health.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.