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Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Technically olives are classified as a fruit from the Olea europea tree. They have been cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean for at least 5,000 years. Olive trees can have remarkable longevity with most living to at least several hundred years.

Olives constitute one of the world’s largest fruit crops (greater than even apples and oranges).

Olives are too bitter to be eaten right off the tree. They must be cured to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. Processing methods vary with the olive variety, region where they are cultivated, and the desired taste, texture and color. Some olives are picked unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree. 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. 

Olives are a rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. The phytonutrient content of olives depends upon the olive variety, stage of maturation and post-harvest treatment. Olives should be included in our diets as a uniquely health-supportive food.

Nutrient Profile: They are a good source of monounsaturated fats and contain some protein and carbohydrates. They are a very good source of copper and a good source of iron, fiber and vitamin E.

Health Benefits:

  • Cardiovascular Benefits: Due to the high amount of monounsaturated fats. These fats help improve blood cholesterol levels and can help to decrease blood pressure.

  • Anti-oxidant Benefits: These benefits are due to the high composition of phytonutrients, as well as, vitamin E, selenium and zinc.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Benefits: These benefits are due to the many phytonutrients. Olives also can function as anti-histamines at a cellular level which can help with allergy-related inflammation.

  • Anti-Cancer Benefits: The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olives help protect against cancer which can be due to chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

Selection and Storage: When purchasing olives from an olive bar (often at salad bar displays), select olives that display reasonable firmness and are not overly soft or mushy.

Whether you purchase olives in a can or a glass jar, store them directly in the refrigerator in their original juices. For canned olives, transfer the contents of their container into a glass container in the refrigerator, which can be stored for 1-2 weeks. Glass jars of olives can be stored directly in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Recipe Suggestion:

It's holiday time! This olive tapenade recipe with sun dried tomatoes from Jo Cooks is super easy and delicious!

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