The olive tree was valued as a symbol of peace and happiness, while olives were used as food and a source of oil.
We all know how good olive oil is is for health, but the humble olive is often passed up mainly because of their unfair reputation for being high in fat. However, olives are actually a very healthy fruit. So theres no need to pass up that tempting olive bar at the market any longer, olives are good for you!
Olives are seen in a variety of colours, from green to brown to purple to black, with flavours just as diverse, ranging from sweet to sour. But all olives actually start out green, as they ripen they gradually turn from green to black. Unripe olives are incredibly bitter and not edible. To become a tasty fruit they must have their bitterness removed. This is done through a variety of curing processes; simply cooking an olive is
not enough to get rid of the bitterness.
The Health Benefits of Olives traditionally cured olives, such as those found at most olive bars, offer a host of health benefits. For starters, theyre rich in iron, vitamin E and copper, and are an excellent source of fibre.
Its true that olives do have some fat, but its the incredibly healthy monounsaturated variety. Monounsaturated fats have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Olives contain a triple whammy for your health that works in synergy to provide extreme benefits. Along with monounsaturated fats, olives are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that neutralizes damaging free radicals, along with polyphenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
The combination of these three health-boosting compounds make olives:
Have a protective effect on cells that can lower the risk of damage and inflammation
Help reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
Help prevent heart disease
Help prevent colon cancer
Help prevent the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in women going through menopause
When choosing olives for their health benefits (and flavour) always opt for those that have been traditionally cured (as opposed to lye processed, usually in tins). No matter what the variety, theyre sure to add a burst of flavour and nutrition to any dish.
Olive soup is a good remedy for a sore throat, according to traditional Chinese medicine (its also the only time olives are used in Chinese cuisine).
Some Olive Varieties You May Not Have Heard of
Bitetto: A sweeter olive from southern Italy.
Beldi: A small, fruity olive from Morocco.
Halkidiki: A tangy green olive from Greeces Halkidiki peninsula.
Gaeta: A small, salty Italian olive.
Cerignola: A very meaty, giant green olive harvested in Cerignola, Italy.