Olive Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  9 min read
olive benefits and side effects

Health

Olive health benefits may include:

Olives are…

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Environment

Water footprint: moderate, it takes 3,015 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of olives / 361 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of olives

Carbon footprint: high, 4.5 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of olives, a car driving equivalent of 10.25 miles or 16.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, olive production is relatively destructive, high levels of soil erosion and run off to water courses mainly in intensified-traditional and modern-intensive systems, olive plantations are deserted in dry areas, soil erosion often increases later and leads to desertification

Olives are…

Animals

Kills: none, olive production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, olive production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: wild songbirds, commercial night-time olive harvesting (mainly in Spain and Portugal) can involve vacuum techniques that kill migratory songbirds, intentional activities may involve capture, death, disturbance, retention, destruction of nests and eggs, Portugal’s night harvesting machines vacuum up some 96,000 birds each year, an initial report by the Government of Andalusia published in 2018 states approximately 2,600,000 birds could be killed due to night-harvesting techniques every year in Spain alone, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Olives are…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Olives…

Where do most olives come from?

The world’s top olive producing country is Spain, followed by Italy and Morocco. The world’s top olive exporting country is Portugal, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Jordan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and USA.

Are olives nutritious?

Yes! Olives are very high in vitamin E, healthy fats and other powerful antioxidants.

olives are alkaline when fresh and mildly acidic when pickled.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Are olives alkaline or acidic? Olives are alkaline when fresh and mildly acidic when pickled. What is the pH level of olives? Olives have an 8.0 pH level when fresh and 6.5 pH level when pickled, once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

olives are gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Are olives gluten free? Yes, olives are gluten free. Olives does not contain gluten when unseasoned. Olives is a type of tree fruit, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

olives are not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are olives a common food allergen? No, olives are not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to olives but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

olives have a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do olives have a high or low water footprint? Olives have a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of olives? It takes 3,015 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of olives / 361 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of olives.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

olives have a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do olives have a high or low carbon footprint? Olives have a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of olives? It takes around 4.5 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of olives, a car driving equivalent of 10.25 miles or 16.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

olives are unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are olives eco friendly? Are olives sustainable?

Olives production is relatively unsustainable due to their high water footprint, high carbon footprint and other factors like high levels of soil erosion.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

olives are vegan but often harmful to wildlife.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Are olives vegan? Yes, olives are vegan. Olives are a fruit and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. However, wild songbirds are often harmed and killed, at times even intentionally.

Commercial night-time olive harvesting (mainly in Spain and Portugal) can involve vacuum techniques that kill migratory songbirds. Intentional activities may involve capture, death, disturbance, retention, destruction of nests and eggs. Portugal’s night harvesting machines vacuum up some 96,000 birds each year and an initial report by the Government of Andalusia published in 2018 states approximately 2,600,000 birds could be killed due to night-harvesting techniques every year in Spain alone.

Go vegan for animals!

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

olives are a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are olives a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns with olive production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Conclusion

Olive pros include:

Olive cons include:

Sources:

Olives, ripe, canned (small-extra large) – FoodData Central

Importing Olives | Agricultural Marketing Service

Spain Undertakes Important Step to Prevent Illegal Killing of Migratory Birds

Millions of Songbirds Do Not Need to Suffer Gruesome Deaths So the Olive Industry Can Save a Buck

Olive harvesting and bird deaths

Millions of Birds Killed by Nighttime Harvesting in Mediterranean

Millions of songbirds ‘vacuumed’ to death every year during olive harvest season

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.