Olives: Beyond the Oil
One of the oldest cultivated trees, the olive tree, along with its branches, fruit and oil -- permeates legend, history and palates around the world. A universal symbol of peace, glory and abundance, the olive, native to
Olives are the fruit of the Olea europea tree. There are thousands of cultivars, but only a few are grown abundantly, both for olives and olive oil. A few important cultivars are arbequina, bosana, kalamata, manzanilla and mission. Some olives may be eaten right from the tree, but most commercially sold olives are cured with water, brine, or lye. Regardless of variety and processing, olives are high in healthy, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats and are rich in many health-protective nutrients, including an array of antioxidants. A one-cup serving packs 22 percent DV (percent Daily Value, recommended intake for 2,000 calories/day) of iron, 16 percent DV for dietary fiber and 20 percent DV for copper for 148 calories.
Most of the olive's fat is made up of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Olives are also plump with a diverse collection of phytonutrients, including polyphenols -- known antioxidants which protect against cell damage. A study published this year in the
Whether canned, jarred, or in an olive bar, olives are fun to explore. Sample the variety of greens, blacks, reds, sizes and textures -- smooth, wrinkled, or cracked. Some are even stuffed with peppers or nuts and swimming with herbs and spices. Olives make a simple snack or appetizer on their own, or blended with olive oil, garlic and seasonings as tapenade to spread on bread or top fish and poultry. Toss them with pasta or onto pizzas and salad for a burst of flavor and nutrition.
Olives, 1 cup, ripe, canned
Dietary fiber: 4 g (16 percent DV)
Vitamin A: 315 IU (11 percent DV)
Vitamin E: 2 mg (10 percent DV)
Calcium: 113 mg (11 percent DV)
Copper: .4 mg (20 percent DV)
Iron: 4 mg (22 percent DV)
DV: Daily Value, g=grams, mg=milligrams, IU=International Units
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