Often thought of as a vegetable, but actually a fruit, the olive is one of the world’s oldest cultivated foods. They are thought to have originated in Asia Minor around 6,000 years ago, and were enjoyed by early civilizations even before the advent of writing. As such, this delectable fruit has long been cherished, and rightfully so, for its incredible versatility, health benefits and potent flavor.
In recent years, researchers have thought that a Mediterranean diet can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. One of their main sources of evidence was the lower prevalence of heart disease and diabetes in countries such as Italy and Spain as opposed to The United States and India. Individuals from the former regions typically consume large quantities of vegetables and whole grains, alongside small amounts of meat, poultry, fish and dairy products on a weekly basis. In addition, olive oil often replaces other fats such as margarine and butter in the cooking process.
Olives in general have been noted for containing fats that are useful in lowering blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease. Their rich anti-oxidant content also makes them effective in combatting cancer by giving nutritional support to nearly every biological system in our body. This amazing fruit often comes in two well-known colored varieties: black and green. The former is created by oxidizing the olive while it is still ripe, giving a stronger but less salty flavor than its non-oxidized counterpart. These two varieties are nearly identical in nutritional value, but there is one important distinction; green olives contain about twice as much sodium as black olives. This is important to keep in mind depending on whether one is looking to cut back or add more sodium to their diet.
Olive oil has the same benefits, but as mentioned before it can lose significant nutritional value depending on how it is processed. It is also notoriously complex to make well, even more so than wine! This is because a variety of factors such as the soil in which the olive tree is planted in to the method in which the fat is extracted from the vegetable immensely influences the flavor, viscosity, color and nutritional content of the final product. Creating high quality olive oil is a delicate and expensive process, but unfortunately only the best brands will be able to provide the same health benefits as consuming the olive in its raw state. In particular, one should be looking to purchase extra virgin olive oil since it is the most nutritious variant, and be prepared to pay around 20$ or more for a 500ml bottle. Anything less is likely to be of an inferior quality, and hold little to no nutritional value at all.
With good quality olive oil being so expensive then, it is clearly much more beneficial to simply consume the fruit raw. Thankfully, it is easy to fit olives into ones diet because they are so versatile. They can be placed in soups, salads and sandwiches to give any of these foods a potent salty flavor. This delectable fruit can also be stuffed with anchovies, nuts or jalapenos and be consumed in this manner as well. One cup of green olives contains 193 calories, 4.4 g of fiber, .72 g of sugar, and 1 g of protein. In comparison, one cup of black olives contains 154 calories, 4.4 g of fiber, 1 g of protein and no sugar.