Amazing Olives!

by Steven Carney on June 26, 2012

I’m sure you’ve had olives and olive oil before. But do you know how healthy they are? Did you realize that olives are a fruit? We forget that because they are usually served as a more savory item or in savory dishes rather than sweet ones.

A little history

Olives have a very long history, with cultivation starting around 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. Olive oil was special to the Greeks and they used it to anoint their athletes, while the oil was used to light lamps. And remember, the olive branch is a the symbol of peace!

Olives are thought to originate from the Mediterranean sea area, and are now grown in many countries in that region, from northern Africa, to Greece, Italy, Spain, and France and beyond. The Romans helped to spread olives throughout their empire.

In fact, olives are now grown in locations where the climate is similar to the temperate Mediterranean area, including North and South America, Australia and parts of Asia!

So many varieties!

Like other fruits, olives come in many varieties! Olives have different colors depending on their ripeness and curing process. Like fruits, they change color as they ripen. Most young olives are yellow in color. As they ripen, they become green, then more darkish brown, later turning black. The blacker ones (like blueberries, blackberries, and black grapes) have more polyphenols, which are healthy antioxidants.

To be edible, olives must go through a curing process (otherwise, they are too bitter), and the curing process often uses salt which can help draw out the bitter compounds. Different countries grow different varieties and use curing processes that reflect their culture. Here are some examples:

  • Black Kalamata from Greece (large size and very popular)
  • Cerignola green from Italy (large and great for stuffing)
  • Manzanilla green olives from Spain (often pimento stuffed)
  • Nicoise from France (used in the salad of the same name)
  • Manzanillo green and black Mission from California (common in U.S.)

Also, olives can be eaten with the pit or pitted and stuffed with pimento, garlic, almonds, cheese, almost anything that adds interest of other flavors! They are sometimes seasoned with oil, herbs or spices. Although they do have some sodium, they are a more complete food (vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants) and a small handful can be a filling and healthy snack, helping you to lose weight!

Healthy olive oil

This is one of the best dietary oils because it’s a monounsaturated oil or fat, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits (especially from EVOO or extra virgin olive oil), which is the first pressing and best quality. Olive oil has some vitamins (mostly E and K) and is also thought to help with heart disease by lowering LDL oxidation and related inflammation. It may also help to improve blood pressure.

I know EVOO can be a bit expensive so here’s a tip: buy a smaller bottle! It will remain fresher when you buy a smaller bottle (rancid or oxidized oil is not healthy). Look for an 8-oz. bottle for around $5-$6 and watch for sale prices!

Some olive trees can live several thousand years, and I think their longevity is symbolic for their contribution to healthy food and oil!

As always, I look forward to hearing from you! Drop me a line if you have comments or questions. You can follow me on Twitter, FB and Linkedin (see social icons in upper right. Plus, you can get 2 coaching sessions (1 per week) for the discounted price of $29.00! Only for June!

Helpful Links:

Detailed nutrition in olives with their broad range of healthy anti-oxidants:


© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


Jones May 3, 2013 at 9:12 AM

This is the first time I came to your web site and I’m impressed with the research you did to make this an amazing post. Great info!

Steven Carney May 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Thanks! I actually had many more links about olives and their health benefits but I kept them as back-up!

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