Why We Love Olives

Get the lowdown on olives (both black and green) -- why they're good for you and what you can do with them.


Olives 2

Photo by: Denis Pepin

Denis Pepin

My friends and family can attest that olives are one of my all-time favorite foods. I heart olives in my morning omelet, chopped into my Israeli-Style Salad and when sipping on a cold brew. There’s no wrong time to munch on this salty, briny fruit.

Olive Facts

Olives date back to biblical times where the olive branch was a symbol of peace. These gems were thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, tropical and central Asia and several parts of Africa. Olive trees were first seen in California in the late 1700s.

Olives grow on trees, have one pit in the center, and contain oil in their flesh. In order to extract their oil the olives must be pressed. The difference between a green and black olive is their degree of ripeness: black olives are the most ripe. Fresh olives picked right off the tree are inedible and must be prepared with brine, salt or cured in olive oil before being consumed.

Some of the most popular varieties include Manzanillo, Mission, Rubra, Sevillano and Gordal. Mission is most commonly used for cold-pressed olive oil from California and Gordal is a very popular table olive from Spain.

Today, over 90% of the world’s olive oil production comes from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Morocco and Portugal.

The Nutrition Scoop

One ounce (about 14 medium) pickled green olives (canned or jarred) contains 41 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, and is cholesterol free. Olives also contain vitamins A and E and copper. Black canned olives have similar calories, fat and a touch more fiber (about 2 grams per ounce). Much of the fat found in olives (and olive oil) comes from heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Studies have found this fat to help fight inflammation. Olive oil also contains an antioxidant called polyphenol which can help alleviate the effects of sunburn, help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.

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