The olive tree, the main and most important tree in the Mediterranean region and its derivatives, table olives and olive oil are the major components of the Mediterranean diet, and their consumption is spreading all over the world.
The olives are an important source of biological properties. Metals like iron, copper, boron, sulfur and zinc, are very essential for the human body and deficiency of these metals can have negative effects.
Iron is an essential mineral for good health. Iron helps in healthy growth and brain development. Iron deficiency results in fatigue and illness.
Copper is another essential element that plays a major role in the formation of collagen. Copper also helps in the formation of red blood cells that are significant for the immune system. Deficiency in copper, results in diseases of skin, bones, muscles and nerves.
Boron is a trace mineral that is necessary for good health. Researchers have proven that boron helps the bones to absorb calcium. Its deficiency may occur to osteoporosis.
Sulfur is an important and abundant mineral in the human body. It is the mineral that fights wrinkles, stress, cancer, pain, fatigue, depression and degenerative diseases.
Zinc is an element very important for normal growth and health also the growth and development of the reproductive organs. Zinc deficiency decreases night vision, taste and smell senses and the capability to fight infections.
Sometimes heavy metals are present in the olives depending on the mineral formation of the soils where the olive trees are growing, or the atmosphere pollution and contamination by chemical products in technological processing.
Heavy metals are known as toxic elements and the consumption of food that is contaminated by these elements can cause diseases.
The amounts of heavy metals contained in table olives are minimal and not mentioned in the nutritional labels because the percentages are way below the established legal limits.
These toxic elements are: Aluminum, lead, chromium, lithium, nickel and cadmium.
Aluminum in very small amounts protects the body’s health, but when it exceeds the suitable amounts can cause neurological damage.
Lead is a soft, highly toxic metal. Lead poisoning effects all the systems in the body. The nervous system, the central system and blood system.
Chromium is a trace mineral that its role is to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol level. Chromium deficiency causes hypoglycemia and elevated cholesterol.
Lithium is a natural mineral that calms the nerves and its main use is in treating manic depressive disorders. Symptoms of lithium toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, frequency in urination, confusion and muscle weakness.
Nickel is not the most important mineral, but it is an essential nutrient involved in many biological processes. Low nickel levels decreases blood pressure and high nickel levels increases blood pressure. Nickel deficiency can cause liver disease, high blood sugar and anemia.
Cadmium is a metal that is taken mainly through food. Excess cadmium intake can cause damage to the nervous system and immune system, also can cause cancer development.