Food Safety

Behold, The Olive!

Maybe you like a few green olives on top of your pizza, or perhaps you spoon a few slices of black olives on your salad to add a bit of tang. But if you’re like many Americans, you might not know that there are a whole host of olive varieties that extend far beyond those that are simply labeled ‘green’ or ‘black.’ The fruit (yes, the olive is a fruit, not a vegetable) of the Olea Europea tree may be huge or tiny, soft or firm, wrinkled or smooth, dark green, deep red, light yellow, blue-green, brown-black, or even purple. There are Spanish (Manzanillo) olives and Greek (Kalamata) olives and Italian (Gaeta) olives. There are the smooth, green, brine-cured Picholine olives from France, and the the purple-hued, brine-cured, vinegar and oil packed Alfonso olives from Brazil. Peru’s huge, deep purple Alfonso olives are brine-cured, then macerated in red wine, while Morocco’s Beldi olives are dry-cured, intensely flavored and super difficult to acquire. Although the United States lags far behind much of the world in olive production and consumption, the Mission olive has been cultivated in california since the 1700s.

Where ever they come from and whatever form they take, olives offer the double benefit of being packed with flavor and packed with nutrition. Studies show olives to be chock full of phytonutrients, including the antioxident oleuropein, which is found exclusively in olives. In addition to their antioxident properties, olive consumption displays antihistamine and anti-inflamitory properties.

Olives are a high fat food, with nearly 85 percent of their calories coming from fat, but don’t let that scare you off. The fat in olives is a ‘good’ fat. In fact, the vast majority of the fat in olives is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. The monounsaturated fat content from olives, may help decrease blood cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

So go ahead, order green olives on your pizza and spoon some black olives on your salad. Or make a tasty tampanade to spread on your chicken, or chop up some Greek olives in your tuna salad. Set out some tangy Spanish olives with your relish tray or garnish your favorite dish with these intensely flavored fruits. At less than 12 calories each, you’ll add healthy flavor without compromising your calorie count.

Food Safety

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