Even though more attention has been sometimes been given to their delicious oil than their whole food delights, olives are one of the world’s most widely enjoyed foods.

Technically classified as fruits of the Olea europea tree (an amazing tree that typically lives for hundreds of years) we commonly think about olives not as fruit but as a zesty vegetable.However, olives are too bitter to be eaten right off the tree and must be cured to reduce their intrinsic bitterness, leading you to the varieties you are used to seeing on grocery store shelves.

The color of an olive is not necessarily related to its state of maturity. Many olives start off green and turn black when fully ripe. However, some olives start off green and remain green when fully ripe, while others start of black and remain black.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Hydroxytyrosol, an olive phytonutrient that has long been linked to cancer prevention, is now regarded as having the potential to help us prevent bone loss as well.
  • Olive extracts have now been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level, providing anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Olives provide almost three-quarters of their fat as oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lowering blood pressure.
  • Few high-fat foods offer such a diverse range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
  • Olives are a very good source of copper and a good source of iron, dietary fiber and vitamin E.

Best Ways to Use

  • Olive tapenade is a delicious and easy-to-make spread that you can use as a dip, sandwich spread, or topping for fish and poultry. To make it, put pitted olives in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and your favorite seasonings.
  • Toss whole wheat pasta with chopped olives, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.
  • Marinate olives in olive oil, lemon zest, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.
  • Add chopped olives to your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe.
  • Set out a small plate of olives on the dinner table along with some vegetable crudités for your family to enjoy with the meal.