Botanically olives belong to the scientific category of Olea europea and are part of the drupes family- fruits that have a pit or stone at their core, and this pit is surrounded by a larger fleshy portion called the pericarp. Other drupes include mango, cherry, peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, almond, and pistachio. “Olea” is the Latin word for “oil,” and reflects the high oil content of this food. Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean, as well as different parts of Asia and Africa.
Olives have been cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean—including Crete and Syria—for at least 5,000 years. In addition, there is carbon-dating evidence of olive tree presence in Spain as many as 6,000–8,000 years ago. This ancient and legendary tree was also native to parts of Asia and Africa. Spanish colonizers of North America brought olive trees across the Atlantic Ocean during the 1500-1700’s.
90% of all Mediterranean olives are crushed for the production of olive oil, with the remaining 10% kept in whole food form for eating.
Here are some of the more popular olive varieties:
- manzanilla: Spanish green olive, available unpitted and/or stuffed, lightly lye-cured then packed in salt and lactic acid brine
- picholine: French green olive, salt-brine cured, with subtle, lightly salty flavor, sometimes packed with citric acid as a preservative in the U.S.
- kalamata: Greek black olive, harvested fully ripe, deep purple, almond-shaped, brine-cured, rich and fruity flavor
- niçoise: French black olive, harvested fully ripe, small in size, rich, nutty, mellow flavor, high pit-to-meat ratio, often packed with herbs and stems intact
- liguria: Italian black olive, salt-brine cured, with a vibrant flavor, sometimes packed with stems
- ponentine: Italian black olive, salt-brine cured then packed in vinegar, mild in flavor
- gaeta: Italian black olive, dry-salt cured, then rubbed with oil, wrinkled in appearance, mild flavor, often packed with rosemary and other herbs
- lugano: Italian black olive, usually very salty, sometimes packed with olive leaves, popular at tastings
- sevillano: Californian, salt-brine cured and preserved with lactic acid, very crisp
15 REASONS TO ADD OLIVES TO YOUR DAILY DIET:
- Prevents Cholesterol Oxidation: Both monounsaturated fats and polyphenols found in olives help prevent oxidation of cholesterol that causes blood vessel damage and dangerous plague formation or atherosclerosis. The oleic acid in olives can change signaling patterns at a cell membrane level, specifically altering G-protein associated cascades, resulting in lowering blood pressure, and protecting against cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack.
- Heart Health: Along with the anti-cholesterol benefits, polyphenols in olives support the cardiovascular system by preventing blood clots that can lead to a myocardial infarction or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and also promote vasodilation. This reduces the load on the cardiovascular system.
- Detoxification: Olives contain rich fiber revitalize important organs liver and the colon, through its cleansing action, thereby enriching the digestive functions, and speeding up expulsion of fatal toxins.
- Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Cancer: Polyphenols, compounds squalene and terpenoid, vitamin E, and beta-carotene reduce chronic, excessive inflammation and provide vital antioxidant properties against colon, breast and skin cancer. Vitamin E, along with the stable monounsaturated fats found in olives, protect cell’s mitochondria (DNA), make cellular processes safer and neutralize free radicals in body fat.
- Bone Health: Olives are rich in vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous, essential for growth and maintenance of the skeletal tissues. It helps prevent bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
- Skin Shield: Olives contain relatively high amounts of essential fatty acids and beta-carotene, the precursor to antioxidant vitamin A, and vitamin E which play an important role in stimulating skin regeneration, providing protection from UV radiation, and guarding against skin cancer and premature aging.
- Vision Care: Vitamin A which, when converted into the retinal form, improves your night vision and is effective against cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other age-related ocular diseases.
- Weight Loss: Monounsaturated fatty acids slow down the digestion process and stimulate the hormones cholecystokinin and serotonin that trigger the satiety (fullness) signals in the brain. Olives also helps your body to stimulate the production of fat-burning chemical adiponectin, and reduces insulin insensitivity.
- Pain Reliever: Green Olive oils contain anti-inflammatory compound oleocanthal, a type of non-selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase (COX). Olive oil naturally reduces the pain of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and can be added to a daily diet to aid in pain reduction.
- Lessens Allergies: Olive extracts block special histamine (H1) receptors at the cellular level. During a allergic reactions, the Histamine numbers rise manifold and if these are controlled then the body’s inflammatory response doesn’t go out of control. Olives increase blood flow and help lessen the effects of illnesses such as asthma through its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Digestive Aid: Olive oil naturally activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones, lowering the incidence of gallstone formation and its antimicrobial properties have a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Fiber in olives, prevent the digestive tract from overworking and maintain the balance of chemicals and populations of microorganisms in the gut.
- Iron Source: BlackOlives are very high in iron, which heighten the haemoglobin and oxygen levels in blood, vital for energy production in cells, and is a necessary part of a number of enzymes, including iron catalase, iron peroxidase, and the cytochrome enzymes. It also helps produce carnitine, a nonessential amino acid important for the utilization of fat.
- Goodbye Supplements: If you are taking multi vitamin supplements, to cover vitamin or mineral deficiencies, then adding olives to your diet will not only nourish the body but also provide the body with more energy, strength and vitality.
- Increases Glutathione Levels: Olives have shown the ability to increase blood levels of glutathione-one of the body’s premier antioxidant nutrients.
- Nutritional Benefits: Olives are rich in essential fatty acids, especially oleic acid, an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid. They are also excellent sources of minerals (potassium, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, iron), vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamin E, D and K), anti-oxidant phytonutrient (polyphenols) flavonoids, and fiber.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- If large amounts of olive are ingested it causes diarrhea to the people allergic to its use. Too much intake of olive oil cause unpleasant symptoms of gas. This even might be an indication that your body is consuming more fat and is unable to digest it.
- Olive oil reduces blood pressure and blood sugars. The intake of olive oil should be neglected if you are taking medication for diabetes or blood pressure, as it may lower them down to a great extent.