Olives, a savory Mediterranean fruit, are often cured and eaten whole as a tangy, salty snack. Many people also enjoy them on pizzas and salads or processed into oil or tapenade.
They’re known for being rich in beneficial fats and are included in the popular Mediterranean diet, so you may wonder whether olives can help you lose weight.
This article explains whether olives aid weight loss.
How olives affect weight loss
Olives may affect your weight in a variety of ways.
Olives have a notably low calorie density.
Calorie density is a measure of the number of calories in a food relative to the food’s weight or volume (in grams). In general, any food with a calorie density of 4 or more is considered high.
Whole black or green olives have a calorie density of 1–1.5.
Choosing foods with a low-calorie density may boost weight loss, as these foods tend to help you feel full for longer — and for fewer calories (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Olives also boast healthy unsaturated fats, which differ from saturated and trans fats due to their chemical structure. All fats contain the same amount of calories, but unsaturated fats affect your body beneficially (5Trusted Source, 6).
In particular, replacing carbs and other fats in your diet with monounsaturated fats may reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of heart disease (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olives, nuts, avocados, and plant-based oils. Some research links diets high in monounsaturated fats directly to weight loss (11Trusted Source).
A 60-day study in 32 women compared diets high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with normal diets. The diet high in monounsaturated fats resulted in a weight loss of up to 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg), plus lower fat mass, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference (12Trusted Source).
Furthermore, a large review of low calorie diets revealed that high fat eating patterns more often lead to weight loss than low fat ones (13Trusted Source).
The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole foods and seafood while limiting processed foods, may boost weight loss. Olives, olive oil, and other healthy fats are a key component of this diet (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
All the same, other studies don’t directly associate it with weight loss (19Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, the Mediterranean diet appears to provide a wide range of health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and waist circumference (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Olives have a low calorie density and are a good source of healthy fats, two factors that may boost weight loss by helping keep you full and replacing less healthy fats in your diet.
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Olive nutrition facts
The nutritional profile of olives varies based on the type of olive and the curing method. Still, most are low in calories but fairly high in salt and beneficial fats.
The following chart examines the nutrients in 1.2 ounces (34 grams) of black and green olives. This serving provides approximately 10 small- to medium-sized olives (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
|Black olives||Green olives|
|Carbs||2 grams||1 gram|
|Protein||less than 1 gram||less than 1 gram|
|Total fat||3 grams||5 grams|
|Monounsaturated fat||2 grams||4 grams|
|Saturated fat||2% of the Daily Value (DV)||3% of the DV|
|Fiber||3% of the DV||4% of the DV|
|Sodium||11% of the DV||23% of the DV|
Depending on the size of the fruits, a serving of 10 green or black olives may contain 35–95 calories.
Notably, olives are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which fight harmful compounds called free radicals in your body. They’re also believed to help reduce your risk of health conditions like diabetes and heart disease (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Whole olives are low in calories but rich in polyphenols and healthy fats. They tend to be high in sodium.
Moderation is key
Although olives have a low-calorie density and may aid weight loss in several ways, it’s best to enjoy them in moderation due to their high salt content, as well as their overall fat content.
Furthermore, if you don’t closely monitor portion sizes, olives’ calorie count can add up quickly.
To keep your saturated fat intake within the recommended guidelines, it’s best to limit your intake to 2–3 ounces (56–84 grams) — about 16–24 small- to medium-sized olives — per day.
Though olives may aid weight loss, they’re high in salt and fat — and eating too many of them may offset your weight loss success. As such, you should moderate your intake, limiting yourself to a few ounces at most per day.
The bottom line
Olives are a scrumptious snack that boasts healthy fats and polyphenol antioxidants. Their low-calorie density means that they may aid weight loss by helping you feel full.
All the same, you should control for portion sizes because olives’ calories can add up quickly.
This popular Mediterranean fruit makes a great replacement for any processed foods or high-calorie snacks in your diet.ADVERTISEMENTStart a custom weight loss program
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Written by Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD on May 11, 2020