Olives are one of the oldest foods, dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years ago in Crete. Olives can be picked unripe when they are green and processed to reduce bitterness, or they can be allowed to ripen until they're black. Black olives are low in calories, contain healthy fats, and have many health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Calories, Protein and Fat
A 1-cup serving of black olives has 142 calories, about 1 gram protein, and about 13 grams fat. The fat in black olives comes primarily from monounsaturated fat sources. Monounsaturated fats are recommended for consumption in moderation to help reduce risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Carbohydrate, Fiber and Sodium
A cup of black olives contains 8 grams carbohydrate, which is a half of a serving for someone counting carbs for diabetic exchanges. A serving also contains 4 grams fiber, which is about the same as any high-fiber bread or cereal. Finally, 1 cup of black olives contains 1,188 milligrams sodium, 50 percent of the Institute of Medicine's recommendation of 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium a day. Keep your serving sizes of black olives small, especially if you are on a low-sodium diet, which usually limits total sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg daily.
Vitamins and Minerals
Olives are a good source of iron, vitamin E and copper. Iron functions in the blood to help carry oxygen. Without adequate iron levels, you may become anemic, and symptoms include fatigue after normally easy activity. Vitamin E helps protect the heart, and many patients with cardiac history are prescribed this vitamin by their physicians. Copper has many functions in the body, including growth and development, utilization of iron, hair and skin growth and maintenance, and energy production.
Black olives are low in calories and contain a good amount of fiber and heart-healthy fat. It is important to remember serving size when dealing with a food high in fat, even a heart-healthy fat, because excess fat intake can cause weight gain, which is not healthy. Keep servings limited and include black olives as part of a varied diet for maximum benefit.