Often applauded for their skin saving “good fatty acids”– a.k.a the MUFAs, or Monounsaturated Fat (article), olives are no stranger to the spotlight. Depending on the time of the year and the marketing flavor of the month, olives can start appearing in everything from recipes to skin creams.
But should we be eating olives for beautiful skin?
It is no secret that a moderate amount of fat, and the right fat, does a body good (article). Fat serves many functional purposes in the body, including its important role in transporting fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. These vitamins work in conjunction with other essential nutrients to support a healthy body and beautiful skin.
Not all fat is created equally (article). The skin benefits from fat that is sourced from whole plant foods, like those found in avocados, young Thai coconuts, and limited amounts of minimally processed, cold-pressed nut/seed/fruit oils (like olive and flax). Whole plant-based fats, when eaten so that the body can efficiently break down the food, are generally considered alkaline in the body. This means that when the food is completely broken down and “burned,” the ash residue it leaves behind supports a balanced body and clean blood.
When the blood becomes unclean and imbalanced, the blood pH is no longer neutral and the skin often suffers (article).
While their fat content is not offensive, all olives are not the beauty foods they are made out to be.
Let’s take a step back. The most beautifying foods are those that are nutrient dense, easily digested and assimilated, and brimming with active food enzymes (which not only aid in digestion, but free up our body’s reservoir of enzymes to partake in their other important responsibilities, like “cleaning house” internally). True beauty foods are thus living food (article).
Many olives, especially the common black olive, are canned, and far from living.
Enzymes do not exist in canned foods, nor do they exist in food items with a long shelf-life. This is because it is the enzymes that must be removed to keep foods from “spoiling.” A lack of enzymes does not necessarily mean that the body cannot still benefit from any nutrient absorption, and therefore a lack of enzymes is not what truly sets canned olives apart from being considered a beauty food. Cans, themselves, are the skin hindering culprit. Chemicals in the can lining are leached from the can and into our food. When we consume a canned food, we put the body at risk of absorbing other toxins into the blood stream. Cans are highly susceptible to BPA toxicity.
BPA is associated with a number of health problems and diseases that are on the rise in the U.S. population, including breast and prostate cancer and infertility. (article).
Can we find beauty in canned foods?
Therefore, regardless of their supposed MUFA content, canned olives are not beneficial to the body or the skin.
Lucky for us, not all of these delicious morsels are canned, but it does not mean we are completely off the hook either.
Aside from their high salt content, which can make us retain water, and look and feel puffy and bloated, many olives are soaked in vinegar, and other such curing solutions like lye– which is apparently the caustic substance used to clean my favorite olive– the buttery and sweet castelvetrano olive.
A healthy body and beautiful skin is the result of clean and balanced blood. We are our healthiest and most radiant when the blood has a neutral pH (article).
- Vinegar, even our more popular balsamic vinegar, is highly acid forming. It is not a beauty food and therefore does not lend itself in creating a youthful, clear complexion, and radiant glow. Additionally, vinegar helps to create an environment in which Candida can thrive. Candida is often associated with acne (article).
- Lye is a substance that causes corrosion, irritation, and burns when applied to the skin. Regardless of whether this substance is rinsed from the olive or not, this is not something I would like to know my olive has been treated with.
Help! What is beautiful about that?
Olives are delicious, and they are certainly not the most offensive treat we can enjoy, but they are also certainly NOT to be flaunted around as part of a solution to beautiful skin.
That being said, there are olives that are of a more friendly decent. For instance, olives that have been cured in a natural brine solution and not then soaked in copious amounts of vinegar, are going to be less acid-forming. I personally have started substituting capers in dishes where I would otherwise be looking for an olive.
What are your thoughts on olives?