Why You Should Make Olives A Part Of Your Diet

We love them on our pizzas, but there’s more to this fruit, packed with goodness

Mohini Mehrotra Updated: Jun 3, 2020 21:21:25 IST
Why You Should Make Olives A Part Of Your Diet Photo: Shutterstock

Most of us love olives on our pizzas, sandwiches, salads, nachos and in pastas. Slightly tangy and salty, these little fruits impart a wonderful flavour to Italian and Mediterranean dishes.

But an olive plucked straight from the tree may actually taste bitter due to the phenolic compound, oleuropein. Legend has it that the Romans were the first to make the fruit palatable by fermenting it in brine and lye from wood ashes.

Today, nearly 90 percent of the total olive production is utilized in making olive oil, while the rest is harvested for table olives—green and black—that you enjoy in your cheese platters, pastas, martinis, and more. Here’s a look at what makes olives a delicious and healthy snack:

Know the difference

For the uninitiated, green olives, also called Spanish olives, are picked unripe (so the green colour). They are then soaked in a lye solution, fermented in brine for 2-3 months after which they are bottled. Green olives stuffed with pimiento peppers are particularly popular and make for a delicious snack that can be paired with cheese.

Black olives, on the other hand, are olives that are picked when the fruit has ripened, turning from green to black. Black olives are more common on pizza toppings and in pasta sauces.

Fruit for health

Whether eaten as a fruit or added to a recipe in the form of olive oil, olives are a rich source of nutrients. We list some of their health benefits:

1. Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietician and consultant with Wellness Nutrition Services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, tells Time,“A typical serving of four large olives has 20 calories, and about two grams of fat—the good kind. Olives are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits around, and although they are mostly fat, that fat is a healthy monounsaturated kind, which translates into benefits to the heart, brain and waistline.” The fatty acids in olives are known to be heart-healthy and play a role in lowering bad cholesterol or LDL.

2. Olives are packed with Vitamin E, iron, copper and calcium. While Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, iron is key to oxygen supply in our body and calcium is important for bone health.

3. The vitamin E in olives makes them an excellent skin and hair food. No wonder, many beauty products are now are enriched with olive/olive oil.

Since cured/fermented olives have a high sodium content, keep a watch on your daily salt intake while having olives in your diet.

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